Contrary to popular belief, writing fiction isn’t about making things up as we go along. Good fiction writers know their craft. They can easily spend as much time researching their subject matter as they do writing about it. And that can be problematic.
Novel writers sometimes have to research the strangest things. My plotlines, for example, often revolve around crime. That’s because when it comes to creating a good conflict, few subjects work better. Crime plotlines aren’t limited to just mystery stories. They work well in other genres too. I write contemporary romance, so having a character accused of a crime he or she didn’t commit works well for me.
Now let’s say I’m using a crime plotline for my story. I want it to be believable. This is where research comes in. However, doing a Google search on, for example, how many years would you get for armed robbery, could possibly raise some red flags. Google records your IP address and your searches. Google also tracks you around the web. And while police officers would probably enjoy a good read as much as anyone, we don’t anyone getting the wrong idea. After all, that unexpected knock at the door could really ruin your day. This is why we need to do our searches anonymously.
StartPage and DuckDuckGo
There are two search engines which you can use for anonymous web searches. Startpage, and DuckDuckGo. Each has its advantages and disadvantages.
I’ve been using Startpage for years. Startpage works with Google, but it doesn’t record your IP address. It also gives you the option of visiting a website anonymously. Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn’t as some websites do not allow anonymous viewing. However, it’s a nice option to have. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I don’t like being tracked after I visit a website.
As much as I like Startpage, it’s far from perfect. Startpage only works with Google, and lately Google has become creepy. They’ve been very outspoken in their commitment to weed out websites whose points of view they happen to disagree with, which troubles me in many ways. However, I’m going to limit my comments and simply state that as writers, we can, and should, be able to see ALL points of view on a given subject; not those with whom Google happens to agree with. We’re writers. We can think for ourselves.
Thankfully, there is another anonymous search engine out there. DuckDuckGo. I’ve not used it as much as Startpage, but I do like it. It also has one distinct advantage over Startpage. It’s not married to Google. However, there is also a disadvantage. DuckDuckGo doesn’t allow you the option of visiting a website anonymously.
So there you have it. Neither search engine stores your information, nor do the track you. If you’re a writer, I highly recommend using either, or both. Whichever one you choose, however, is entirely up to you, as there is no wrong answer.