Diagnosis: over-dependent on Wiki
I recently realised that I’ve been entirely relying on ‘Wiki’ aka Wikipedia for my research into historical facts instead of looking for them by entering my query in the search box of my computer, but maybe this isn’t a good idea, especially if you’re writing a historical novel.
For example, I’m currently writing a scene that is set on Blackwell’s Island in the 19th. century (1870 to be precise.)
Blackwell’s Island, in New York City, which is now called Roosevelt island, was the site of a lunatic asylum and a penitentiary during the 19th century.
How do you escape from it?
Pretty easy, really, just find a boat and row it to the mainland, it’s only a few hundred yards away.
Hmm, on second thoughts maybe it isn’t so easy, because I now find that the island was guarded by prison guards, and the river between the island and the mainland was regularly patrolled by prison patrol boats.
But this possibility didn’t occur to me, so according to my reasoning it didn’t exist, because there was nothing in Wiki about it,
Or rather, according to my over-dependence on Wiki it didn’t exist.
I can’t remember exactly how I discovered that it existed, which route I took, which search terms I entered, but I found it on this corrections history website:
Thanks to this website I now know that ‘Sentinels are (in the 19th. century) stationed along the water fronts, and the guard-boats patrol the river to prevent the escape of convicts.’
It seems that I’ll have to re-write part of this scene and at least mention the possibility of the escapees being caught by prison guards.
Wiki is a useful resource, and I’m grateful for it, but it isn’t a good idea to become over-dependent on it.