Google: the Writer’s Friend

by Sarah Bowman

If your childhood homelife was not lived in English and you’re trying to write a novel about it for a mainstream English-speaking society, how do you translate all of those comfy homey terms into something meaningful to your audience? Better yet, if you’re setting your story twenty years before your own time, illustrating farming practices that were disappearing about the time you were born, how do you portray these meaningfully to a mainstream English-speaking urban audience?

Google has proved to be my friend. For many purposes, I use Google Images: antique household items and furniture, vintage fashions of pretty much anything mainstream for any given decade of the twentieth century especially when it comes to dressing and hairstyling my mainstream characters. From Images, there are always links to ‘Visit this page.’ Many images are taken from Pinterest sites but all I need is a label or basic English description for the article or garment. This gives me language, as well as a visual impression, to describe what I want my readers to see.

As for farming practices and manufacturing of the first half of the twentieth century, Google Books has found me entries in old farming guides and other books with details of practice and experience I could never have come up with on my own. And again, it’s in English, providing me with the necessary English vocabulary to say what I need to say. If there is a doubt regarding correct item or definition, I can always use Google Images and my newly-acquired English vocabulary to double-check in online dictionaries.

Google is truly this writer’s friend.

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