Research – Where do you go?

Authors, when you are writing about a subject that you aren’t familiar with, where do you go for reliable research?

I am writing a short story that includes a Voodoo Doll and magic spell. I find lots of what I think is hooey, in my searches, and want to make sure my facts are accurate, down to the words said when casting a spell.

So, I’m curious as to whether you have any tried and true sources you trust.

I found a good deal of information on Pinterest and a little on WikiHow about ways to construct your Voodoo doll. As far as the origin of the practice of Voodoo, I went to the Wikipedia and found some fascinating history including what it morphed into in New Orleans. Then I started searching for incantations that could be used for specific situations.

When they say you can find everything on the internet, they aren’t wrong, including bogus information. There is a lot of history, and folk tales surrounding Marie Laveau, and it’s hard to tell what’s true and what isn’t. Here a couple of examples.

So, back to my original question. Do you have tried and true resources for research. And do you get good information that you feel comfortable including in your stories?

I’m also having a hard time finding just the right free image to create a book cover for this story. But, that is just a time-consuming search. I went first to Pixabay. I find that the key to a successful search is all in what words you enter. I gave up on Voodoo and entered “Fantasy” in the search box and found some intriguing images.

Let me say that this subject and practice is way out of my wheelhouse, so I am going strictly on information I can find. I’d appreciate any tips!

Thanks in advance!!

25 thoughts on “Research – Where do you go?

  1. I do internet searches for minor research, but for the main thread in my books, I use Amazon. I browse titles related to my subject, then find at least one really good book. Sometimes I will order two. Then I read them with a highlighter, all the while scribbling research notes in a spiral-bound book even as I highlight particular passages.

    As I hand write notes, I usually also reference possible scenes in my book that can be based on that particular thread. So, my odd number pages are all research, but the back side (even numbered pages) are all about my story and characters. I’ll also alternate colors of ink to make things stand out, and I highlight in the notebooks, too. Strange, yes? LOL!

    I read multiple books when I was doing Point Pleasant, the same when I wrote the first Hode’s Hill novel. It’s time consuming, but it works for me.

    Good luck, Jan. It sounds like you’re developing an intriguing story!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, Mae! That is some detailed and organized research. But, the results show in your stories! Thanks for the great tips!! This is a short story so my research won’t have to be that extensive, but it’s just a subject I know nothing about. I appreciate your response! Have a GREAT Wednesday!! Hugs!

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      1. Definitely, for a short story I wouldn’t go to the lengths I describe above, but for a novel I tend to go overboard, LOL.
        Wishing you a great day, Jan! {{Hugs}}

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  2. I just search like you do. I try to confirm by several sources. There was a show I watched in a ways back in my anthropology class called Taboo by National Geographic. There were some voodoo ones that you might find interesting. Sounds like a facinating story Jan.

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  3. I usually use the internet and gather as many sources as I can to find the commonality. But having done one voodoo story, I know it’s hard to glean the make-believe from the real. Plus there are different types of voodoo. Good luck, Jan! That’s a tough one.

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  4. This is going to surprise a lot of people, but I do the same kind of research you do. Then I take a different path… I make it all up myself, based upon that research. I like having a factual basis, or even a legendary basis, but in the end I rely upon that suspension of disbelief.

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  5. I follow a path similar to you, Jan. It’s intriguing to go to original sources, but for most of our work as writers, we do not need such facts. Craig’s comment is right-on. BTW I’m really looking forward to reading your short story. The posters grabbed me!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Gwen! I am submitting it to the 90-day Alpha/Omega Short Story contest at RRBC! I am loving the challenge of writing something so completely different from anything I’ve ever written!

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  6. Jan, what a great topic to research but I can imagine coming across a lot of questionable material. Being aware to check the source is key. I havenโ€™t had to do proper research since university and then I always enjoyed going back to original books,newspapers etc … it gives a wonderful sense of the era, the archaic language, thoughts and conventions of the time which play a huge role in ones ultimate work. Good luck with the research and finding a cover … youโ€™re right with needing just the right phrase with pixaby – that should work! ๐Ÿ˜€

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  7. It’s such a fascinating topic. Here are some sources you might find helpful. Voodoo is similar Santeria so you can get to Voodoo through Santeria.

    The ‘Santeria Church of the Orishas’ has an excellent explanation of the histories, practices, differences and similarities between Voodoo and Santeria.

    The site looks legit to me and is rich with all kinds of information on Voodoo.

    I wonโ€™t leave a link because I donโ€™t want to end up in your spam folder.

    Google ‘Santeria Church of the Orishas’ and see the article: ‘What is the difference between Voodoo, Hoodoo and Santeria?’

    National Geographic online has an excellent article on Haitian Vodou. Google ‘Haiti: Possessed by Voodoo’

    The Smithsonian online has an article on the history of the 1864 murders that popularized Voodoo as a dark art. Google ‘The Trial That Gave Vodou A Bad Name’

    And finally, BBC online has a 2017 article that discusses the practice of Voodoo in the 21st Century. Google ‘Has voodoo been misjudged?’

    I hope these help. Each article has links to other credible sources so these may be good resources for starting.

    Liked by 1 person

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