There is only so much a person can do with wikipedia and references. I'd like to hear some advice on what might be the best way to get information from a professional in a field? I have had this story in my mind forever but I'm not entirely sure how to go about approaching people to find out the information I want and need to give my story realism. Unsurprisingly, I'm kind of introverted and independent, so it's hard for me to put myself out there and not feel weird or pushy or in the way.
Well, it depends on what the subject is, but I would start out doing general reference. One lightbulb moment I had while in college was that even though the internet is great, books are still the best way to really learn about something in-depth. Yeah, I could find some articles on internet databases, but I could find whole BOOKS of collected articles on really, really specific subjects.
And where are these books? DA LIBRARY! Librarians are another often overlooked resource when it comes to research. Librarians are not just ladies with glasses putting books back on shelves—it’s part of their job to be able to help you find information on a certain topic.
Of course, talking to first-hand sources is also extremely useful, if not moreso. If you’re writing about a historical event, say, it’d be great to talk to someone who was there. To make approaching them less weird, start out thinking about who you already know who’d know something about the topic, or who they might know. So, say you’re trying to write about Pearl Harbor—ask your grandmother or grandfather if they know anyone who was there, or who could give you more information. Then your grandparent can act as a mediator and vouch for you.
If you’re shy, you can also try emailing people. That’ll help you twofold—1, you won’t have to talk to anyone in person, and 2 you’ll have what they say in written format.
I started out as a journalism major, and at first getting in peoples’ faces and asking them questions was really hard for me. But you get used to it. If people don’t want to talk to you, fine. But I think you’ll find that most of the time, people want to share their stories.
Hope that helps!