aprilhenry (aprilhenry) wrote,

The curse of the Internet

I first started writing in the dark ages, when the Internet as we know it didn’t really exist. How I did my research is all kind of foggy: I would go to the Central Library and consult the Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature, which were these green bound volumes that listed by subject articles that had been published in all kinds of magazines. And then - hm, not sure... - I think I would request copies of the magazines that I wanted? Or I would look them up on microfiche?

Anyway, as you can imagine, a lot of times, for small details, I simply made things up. I used common sense.I used what I had seen on TV or movies or read in other books. Sometimes the things I thought I knew or thought made sense were wrong, but there probably wasn’t any easy way to check that out.

Cut to 2012. I have a character whose husband has died. She finds out he has been leasing their Suburban. How much would it lease for? After some Googling, I can arrive at an amount. It’s a lot. She can’t afford it. I figure since she never signed the lease, she can simply turn the car back into the dealer, show them the death certificate, and then walk away.

Only I made the mistake of Googling. No. Even death doesn’t stop the lease. Even if you turn in the car, you still owe all the payments. So now, my short scene has gotten more complicated, which may be good for her, but it's bad for me. I find this site called swapalease.com, where you can try to hook up with someone to take over your lease.

Would it matter if I wrote it wrong? Somehow, I think it does. It makes me upset when I read some aspect of police procedure or something else that I know about that is wrong, one that could have been easily Googled. It takes me out of the story world.

As a result, of all this Googling, I know a lot of stuff I didn’t used to know. Sure, I picked some of this up through my Readers Guide perusal back in the day (for example, Lucky Lucciano, I remember, ended up in a TB sanitorium, along with a body guard who didn’t have TB but had to take the cure anyway).

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve researched? What have you read that was wrong and bugged you?

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