Research Sites for Writers

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Where to Research Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories

This is a collection of research sites for writers. I primarily write science fiction, so there is a heavy focus on science fiction research. This post will be regularly updated, so add it to your bookmarks.

It’s a lot of work to maintain a links collection. If you see a link has gone dead, please contact me and let me know.

General/All Purpose Research Sites for Writers:

  • DuckDuckGo – DuckDuckGo bills themselves as “the independent Internet privacy company for anyone who’s tired of being tracked online.” Might be a good option the next time you’re worried that your writing research is going to “get you on a list.” I used it to research my cannibal murder mystery, and I haven’t gotten arrested yet! Just remember to search for “book marketing” and “proper semicolon usage” in between searches for “how to beat CSI methods” and “best places to bury a body 5 miles outside Chicago.”
  • Frontiers – Open access journals. Useful for researching aerospace, medical topics, biology, and a lot more.
  • Future Science – Non-profit that examines new scientific ideas for the future. Posts may be useful to research or inspire science fiction stories.
  • Kagi Search – A “premium” search engine designed to be focused on users instead of advertisers. A paid service, but offers a free trial plan with one hundred searches.
  • Marginalia – An alternative search engine “designed to help you find some things you didn’t even know you were looking for.”
  • Pixar’s Art of Storytelling – Free online course with Khan Academy.
  • r/SelfPublish – The subreddit for everything self publishing.
  • SpringerLink – Open access journals. Useful for researching biology, computer science, physics, astronomy, stats, chemistry, and a lot more.
  • r/WorldBuilding – The subreddit for creatives who are interested in building their own fictional worlds. Learn about world building, explore others’ creations, and share your own.
  • Writing Prompts – The greatest collection of science fiction, fantasy, and horror writing prompts on the web. Also, the guy who wrote it is really handsome.

Body Language:

Every writer, regardless of genre, should study body language. Knowing how people move their bodies and faces as they speak, think, share their feelings, and deceive each other will make your characters more believable. It will also give you more ideas for dialogue beats, what exactly characters should be doing during dialogue scenes.

Characters:

Copyright Issues

These are vital research sites for writers. If you publish anything, you will eventually run into book pirates.

Estimating things:

When you’re writing a story, sometimes it’s difficult to estimate how big a villain’s secret hideout would need to be, or how much larger your giant killer robot should be compared to a regular, everyday killer robot. These resources may come in handy for writers like me who aren’t too strong with spatial skills.

  • Comparing heights – This website lets you enter the heights of two people and compare how they would look standing next to each other. See just how much taller your “a head taller” romantic lead would have to be, or how much taller an Amazon Warrior might be than your adventurer.
  • Country Size Comparison – Compare two different countries to see how much bigger or smaller they are than where you’re from.
  • Measuringly – This unusual site is filled with size comparisons, so you can get a better grasp on just how big twelve yards, six feet, or three inches really is. Let’s say you’re writing about an asteroid, and you guesstimate that it’s about a hundred kilometers long. You can open up the 100 kilometers article and see that it’s 1,000 times longer than a soccer field, twice as long as a marathon race, and 37 times as long as the Golden Gate bridge. Based on these size comparisons, you can decide if your space pirates need more or less room on their asteroid secret hideout.

Folklore and Mythology:

Researching folklore and mythology can add depth and meaning to fantasy and horror stories.

Grammar, Punctuation, and Other Basics:

Historical Research:

The Perfect Word:

  • Onelook Reverse Dictionary – Sort of like a thesaurus. Enter a word, phrase, description, or pattern, and find synonyms, related words, and more.
  • Power Thesaurus – A community-driven thesaurus.
  • Reverse Dictionary – Sort of like a thesaurus. Enter a word and find synonyms, related words, and more.
  • RhymeZone – Rhyming dictionary. Also has “find descriptive words” and “find related words” options that work similar to a reverse dictionary.
  • Word Hippo – Thesaurus and other word tools.

Robots:

Settings:

Spaceships and Space Travel:

Knowing how spaceships and space travel work will help your stories feel more realistic. If that’s what you’re going for. Or you could do what I did in The Screaming Void and just say “it’s alien tech nobody really understands…”

World Building:

Writing Tips:

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