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Hello fellow writers!

WriteWorld has a new policy on questions about research that we would like to share with you:

WriteWorld reserves the right to decline to do research (especially basic, single-search research) for fellow writers.

Questions posed to WriteWorld regarding research topics…

Just wanted to put this one back out there.

- O

Finding the information you need as a writer shouldn’t be a chore. Luckily, there are plenty of search engines out there that are designed to help you at any stage of the process, from coming up with great ideas to finding a publisher to get your work into print. Both writers still in college and those on their way to professional success will appreciate this list of useful search applications that are great from making writing a little easier and more efficient.


Find other writers, publishers and ways to market your work through these searchable databases and search engines.

  1. Litscene: Use this search engine to search through thousands of writers and literary projects, and add your own as well.
  2. Get a boost in your creativity with some assistance from this site.
  3. PoeWar: Whether you need help with your career or your writing, this site is full of great searchable articles.
  4. Publisher’s Catalogues: Try out this site to search through the catalogs and names of thousands of publishers.
  5. Edit Red: Through this site you can showcase your own work and search through work by others, as well as find helpful FAQ’s on writing.
  6. Writersdock: Search through this site for help with your writing, find jobs and join other writers in discussions.
  7. PoetrySoup: If you want to find some inspirational poetry, this site is a great resource.
  8. Here, you can search through a wide range of self-published books.
  9. One Stop Write Shop: Use this tool to search through the writings of hundreds of other amateur writers.
  10. Writer’s Cafe: Check out this online writer’s forum to find and share creative works.
  11. Literary Marketplace: Need to know something about the publishing industry? Use this search tool to find the information you need now.


These helpful tools will help you along in the writing process.

  1. WriteSearch: This search engine focuses exclusively on sites devoted to reading and writing to deliver its results.
  2. The Burry Man Writers Center: Find a wealth of writing resources on this searchable site.
  3. This fully-featured site makes it possible to find information both fun and serious about the craft of writing.
  4. Purdue OWL: Need a little instruction on your writing? This tool from Purdue University can help.
  5. Writing Forums: Search through these writing forums to find answers to your writing issues.


Try out these tools to get your writing research done in a snap.

  1. Google Scholar: With this specialized search engine from Google, you’ll only get reliable, academic results for your searches.
  2. WorldCat: If you need a book from the library, try out this tool. It’ll search and find the closest location.
  3. Scirus: Find great scientific articles and publications through this search engine.
  4. OpenLibrary: If you don’t have time to run to a brick-and-mortar library, this online tool can still help you find books you can use.
  5. Online Journals Search Engine: Try out this search engine to find free online journal articles.
  6. All Academic: This search engine focuses on returning highly academic, reliable resources.
  7. LOC Ask a Librarian: Search through the questions on this site to find helpful answers about the holdings at the Library of Congress.
  8. This search engine can help you find basic encyclopedia articles.
  9. Clusty: If you’re searching for a topic to write on, this search engine with clustered results can help get your creative juices flowing.
  10. Intute: Here you’ll find a British search engine that delivers carefully chosen results from academia.
  11. AllExperts: Have a question? Ask the experts on this site or search through the existing answers.


Need to look up a quote or a fact? These search tools make it simple.

  1. Writer’s Web Search Engine: This search engine is a great place to find reference information on how to write well.
  2. Bloomsbury Magazine Research Centre: You’ll find numerous resources on publications, authors and more through this search engine.
  3. Merriam-Webster Dictionary and Thesaurus: Make sure you’re using words correctly and can come up with alternatives with the help of this tool.
  4. Find all the reference material you could ever need through this search engine.
  5. If you need a quote, try searching for one by topic or by author on this site.
  6. Literary Encyclopedia: Look up any famous book or author in this search tool.
  7. Acronym Finder: Not sure what a particular acronym means? Look it up here.
  8. Bartleby: Through Bartleby, you can find a wide range of quotes from famous thinkers, writers and celebrities.
  9. Just about anything and everything you could want to look up is found on this site.
  10. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Find all the great philosophers you could want to reference in this online tool.

Niche Writers

If you’re focusing on writing in a particular niche, these tools can be a big help.

  1. PubGene: Those working in sci-fi or medical writing will appreciate this database of genes, biological terms and organisms.
  2. GoPubMd: You’ll find all kinds of science and medical search results here.
  3. Jayde: Looking for a business? Try out this search tool.
  4. Zibb: No matter what kind of business you need to find out more about, this tool will find the information.
  5. TechWeb: Do a little tech research using this news site and search engine.
  6. Google Trends: Try out this tool to find out what people are talking about.
  7. Godchecker: Doing a little work on ancient gods and goddesses? This tool can help you make sure you have your information straight.
  8. Healia: Find a wide range of health topics and information by using this site.
  9. Sci-Fi Search: Those working on sci-fi can search through relevant sites to make sure their ideas are original.


Find your own work and inspirational tomes from others by using these search engines.

  1. Literature Classics: This search tool makes it easy to find the free and famous books you want to look through.
  2. InLibris: This search engine provides one of the largest directories of literary resources on the web.
  3. SHARP Web: Using this tool, you can search through the information on the history of reading and publishing.
  4. AllReaders: See what kind of reviews books you admire got with this search engine.
  5. BookFinder: No matter what book you’re looking for you’re bound to find it here.
  6. ReadPrint: Search through this site for access to thousands of free books.
  7. Google Book Search: Search through the content of thousands upon thousands of books here, some of which is free to use.
  8. Indie Store Finder: If you want to support the little guy, this tool makes it simple to find an independent bookseller in your neck of the woods.


For web writing, these tools can be a big help.

  1. Technorati: This site makes it possible to search through millions of blogs for both larger topics and individual posts.
  2. Google Blog Search: Using this specialized Google search engine, you can search through the content of blogs all over the web.
  3. Domain Search: Looking for a place to start your own blog? This search tool will let you know what’s out there.
  4. OpinMind: Try out this blog search tool to find opinion focused blogs.
  5. IceRocket: Here you’ll find a real-time blog search engine so you’ll get the latest news and posts out there.
  6. PubSub: This search tool scours sites like Twitter and Friendfeed to find the topics people are talking about most every day.

Source: writingadvice


I get a lot of Asks from people who say they Googled their topic but didn’t find anything. Then I Google it and find a ton of resources. I prefer to think that this is because internet research can be daunting, so I am putting together this little guide in hopes of making internet research a little easier.

Step One - Reduce your topic to the fewest number of words you can and try Googling it. For example, if your protagonist is a fireman, try Googling:

  • Fireman
  • Firemen

Step Two - Put the information you need into question form and Google it. For example, for your fireman character, you will need to know what it’s like to actually be a fireman. Try Googling:

  • What’s it like to be a fireman?
  • What does a fireman do?
  • What is a fireman’s life like?

Step Three - Think of different statements that describe the information you’re looking for. For example, if you want to know what it’s like in a firehouse, try Googling:

  • Life inside a firehouse
  • Fireman daily routines

Step Four - See if there are any alternative words you could use to describe your topic and Google those. For example:

  • Fireman/Firefighter
  • Firehouse/Fire Station/Fire Department
  • Fire Truck/Fire Engine

Step Five - Search for personal points-of-view by searching for blogs, interviews, forum posts, and experience essays. Using a fireman as an example, you could search for:

  • "Fireman Blog"
  • "Interview with a firefighter"
  • "My experience as a firefighter"

You can also search for an IamA (I am a…), which is a form of Ask Me Anything on Reddit. IamAs are posted by people with interesting jobs or careers who open themselves up to questions from other Reddit members. Reading through an IamA on your topic (if there is one) is a great way to learn from the personal point-of-view of an expert.

Step Six - Search for your topic on YouTube. I know it sounds crazy, but just do it. You never know what you might find. Case in point:

Now, Let’s Talk About Results:

When you type a search term into Google, you’re likely to get millions of results. That can be very daunting if you’re not entirely sure what you’re looking for. So, how do you wade through all of that information to find what you need?

To start with, you should be able to find enough information to help you within the first three pages of results. As you read down each page of results, just ignore things that obviously don’t pertain to your search, and when you see something that might pertain to your search, right-click on the result and then left-click “open in a new tab” to save it for later. 

Let’s take a look at what comes up for “fireman”:


Clearly, we’re not looking for a Lil Wayne song, so we can ignore that. Definitions might offer helpful information, but you probably already know the definition of your topic. Images can be helpful, but ignore them unless you need a visual. Wikipedia articles, though not always accurate, are always worth opening. The article will give you a helpful overview of the topic—just make sure to double-check any facts you note down. So, one result for the first page isn’t bad. Pages two and three offered a few more worth opening.

Now, let’s look at the results for “interview with a firefighter”:


Any search for a career plus “interview” is likely to bring up tips for people who are interviewing for a job in that career. In this case, most of the results on the first page were interviewing tips for prospective firefighters. However, there was one helpful hit—a video interview with a firefighter. That is exactly what we were looking for, so we’ll open up that tab. Once again, pages two and three had a few more links to actual interviews with firefighters as opposed to interviewing tips. (***Note: I put a NO symbol on the third result, though that actually looks like an interview with a firefighter, so we would probably open that. ;))

Once you have three to five tabs open, you can start looking through each one to gather information on your topic. You can jot the notes down in a notebook, or you can open up a Notepad document (just be sure to save it a lot) and jot down your notes in there. It is also helpful to print out articles or interviews if you can, and then use a highlighter to keep track of important information.

The three most important things you can do when doing internet research are:

1) Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed by all the information. Just take one result at a time and keep going until you have enough helpful information.

2) Be patient. While you should be able to find a lot of helpful information within the first few pages of results, sometimes you may need to look at several pages or try several different search terms.

3) Don’t give up! Research is important to your novel, and you’re really the only one who knows exactly what information you need. It may take hours or even days, but stick with it until you find the information you’re looking for. Sometimes a new search term to try will hit you out-of-the-blue, and that’s the one that brings up all the information you could want.

Good luck and happy researching!

Anonymous asked: "Hello! I'd like to know if you have any information on Mexico? I'm writing a story and I thought it'd be a good location but I didn't want to write with just wikipedia's info and I thought you may help me find some better, more reliable sources to read from."

I would suggest talking to people from Mexico about Mexico. You’re very right in thinking that Wikipedia isn’t going to cut it.

Would anyone out there like to be a resource for this anon about Mexico, please respond to this post.

Thank you!


EDIT: Please do not send us messages responding to this post. We cannot privately pass them along to the anon for obvious reasons. It is better to cut out the middle man and just reply to this post. 

That said:

Look, you’re going to have to do research away from the internet. In almost every circumstance where reliable information is required, that’s just the way it is. The internet just isn’t forthcoming or accurate enough to be your only resource. Yet.

So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at the process of researching a difficult topic like yours!

That’s it. That’s the show.

tl;dr: Research by reading and conducting interviews with experts. Gather first-hand accounts. Take the time to become as knowledgeable as you can before you start writing. Get organized by thinking about the information you’ve gathered and want to include then planning for when you’ll impart this information to the reader within your narrative. Edit your work once you’ve written it to make sure that it isn’t overwhelming, confusing, or awkwardly communicated. These steps should get you on the right track toward writing a well-researched novel that included a character who has cancer. 

If you’d like to read more from WriteWorld on research, check out the links below!

And if you’d like some WriteWorld-approved resources regarding research, take a look at these articles:

Thank you for your question! If you have any comments on this post or other questions about writing, you can message us here


taiadiregis asked: Okay. So the story I’m writing right now takes place mostly in Rome. Problem: I have never been to Rome. And I’m doing a ton of research, but it would be nice to get some info from a person who actually lives there and/or spent time there. So I was just hoping that one of your many followers could help me out! Thanks guys!

First off: Haven’t Done It, Can’t Write It

Secondly, if anyone would like to be a resource for taiadiregis about Rome, please respond to this post. 

Thank you!


I’d like to put romance in my stories, but I fear that I’m not “entitled” to do that because I lack any sort of experience when it comes to romantic love and healthy relationships. It’s like if a virgin writes a sex novel. In other words, do I need the real life experience to make it believable / realistic, or not?

Well no, really. Example: JK Rowling has never been a boy wizard (or even a boy), but I think we can agree that she did a pretty good job with Harry. She also had way less material at her disposal than you do. You have people all around you and loads of books and movies and songs and things that can give you approximately seven zillion different perspectives on romance etc. Rowling had to build everything from the ground up, and yet she was still able to describe how the right wand felt in Harry’s hand and do a pretty convincing job of it.

The job of the writer is to create feelings in the reader that the reader does not actually feel. It should then be possible for you, the writer, to feel these feelings as well. If you don’t feel them, then make a convincing job of it. (Writers don’t always feel the same way as their characters, you just have to know why a character would feel a certain way and be convincing of it.)

Writing requires a lot of different skills: creativity, patience, self-awareness, and research are only a few. One that isn’t talked about so often is empathy: being able to understand the feelings of another person. That’s the skill that you need to use here. Do your research, talk to people you know that have been in love. The reader won’t say “well, this person hasn’t been in a romantic relationship and therefore can’t write about this stuff.” The key is writing a story that is so convincing that it keeps that small fact about you a secret.

Thanks for your question! If ever want to know something about writing, don’t hesitate to use our ask box.

- O

If anyone would like to be a resource for the-universe-of-words about Los Angeles, please respond to this post. 

Thank you!