Thursday, 9 January 2014

Thank you GOOGLE!
This week I have written a first draft of a new story. Back in November, my writing buddy group set the challenge of writing a crime story, something I'd never even attempted before. I failed, miserably! I was trying to write the whole thing from motive and crime through to detection. Not wanting to be beaten, when December's challenge was to write a story based on a particular date, I decided I could combine the two. The date would be August 31st 1997 - we all remember what we were doing when the news broke that Princess Diana had died , don't we? - and the crime would be the death of another Diana by a stalker. It was all sorted, well in my head at least!

I had written the first part of the story and was re-reading it. Harassment via texting on a mobile phone? Hmmm. Would that happen in 1997? I suspected not. So I checked on Google! Remember these?


Hardly small enough to slip into a pocket like the slim Smart phones of today. Although the first text message was sent in 1992, it wasn't until cell phone service providers began allowing the exchange of text messages between networks in 2001 that text messaging increased in popularity. Not in 1997 then. First 'faux-pas' in my story! 

Diana, my character, met her stalker, Kevin, when they were both volunteers at a 'Crisis at Christmas' homeless shelter. Through Google, I was able to find details of what this would entail, how many homeless guests would be provided with Christmas dinners and the sort of activities that would be arranged in a typical shelter.  When it came to deciding on a home for my characters, I researched various London boroughs and I consulted Google maps. I found it easier to describe the street where Kevin stalked Diana and the gardens where she eventually met her death with some real images in mind.

I've put the story away for a few days before I start on another re-write. Did I change the references to texting? No, I am now calling my story 'Ten Years On' and the date has changed to the 10th anniversary of the day Diana died. The talking at cross purposes at the end of the story between Kevin and his mother still works I think. Glued to the TV watching the coverage of the event in 1997 ten years before, she talks about the day Diana died and he can only think of his Diana and what he has just done. I don't know whether the story will ever get published but I'm looking forward to sharing it at the January meeting next week. 

How have you used Google in your writing?

10 comments:

  1. I do use Google, yes. It's great for checking little details. Recently I wanted alternative terms for granny, to know when National service stopped and when cruise holidays began (not all for the same story!) If I'm researching a fact, I like to use more than one source, but Google makes that easy.

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    1. I agree that it's best to use more than one source, Patsy. I recognise why you needed the alternative names for granny - great story! For 'Ten Years On' I was able to find a number of very different real stalking stories which I hope has given the story more credibilty.

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  2. I used to have a phone like that, Jan and like Patsy, I use Google all the time for research. My most recent was to research dam!

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    1. Am now trying to think of your possible storyline, Wendy! Yes, my phone is in constant use often to the annoyance of my OH - I'm fast becoming known as Jan 'I'll Google It' Baynham!!

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    2. Just to clarify - I meant 'a dam' not damn!

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  3. Hi Jan, I realise now, when I read your story, I thought you'd written an alternative way that Princess Diana would have died. Now I see it's a different Diana, silly me.

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  4. We all read and interpret stories in different ways, Sue, don't we? Thank you for sharing this with me and I'll make sure the comparisons between the two Dianas are more subtle in the re-write.

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  5. I waste many an hour Googgling and Wiki-ing, but I also like to sit in the reference section of the library. Makes me feel like a 'proper' writer!

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    1. Yes, nothing beats the atmosphere in a library, does it? Anything that will help me become a 'proper' writer I like! :-)

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