When I first started reading, I read historical romances. I'd double majored in Creative Writing and History for two years in college before realizing that I wanted to get out of school faster than would be possible with a double major, so I dropped History and went with Creative Writing. With that being said, why then do I write urban fantasies and paranormal romances?
I thought they'd require no research. I knew in my reading that so much goes into historicals that I didn't think I could pull off that caliber for creating novels as a new writer. I wanted to, of course, but it never occurred to me to even try. Now I feel ready to try all these years later. I'm currently plotting my first historical urban or dark fantasy.
That aside, I know the importance of research for contemporary novels now, too. The manuscript I'm currently editing has had several things I've had to look up. Pistol-whipping, car accidents, and city locations to name a few things. My next urban fantasy will be mostly placed in a foreign country, which I've visited. I have the benefit of having been there, but of course research comes in handy when I need to refresh my memory.
Google and Wikipedia are usually my starting points when I set about to research, from there, I try to find legit websites and glean information from them. I end up learning more than I initially sought after and have to close my web browser to get back to work. In the past, I've researched things in honest-to-God books, but with the internet being so handy, sometimes it's hard to get up the motivation to do so if I can find something quicker and easier on the web, unless the internet doesn't have what I need. I've thought about asking experts, but so far, I've just been a bit too timid.
How do you go about researching? What are your starting points? Do you use books or the internet?