Lots of writers get asked where they get their ideas. In my experience they come to me from various places. One thing leads to another, and I get an idea for a potential story. Usually I'll write them down someplace - with the hope that I can find my notes again when I need them!
But often when I'm looking for a specific thing online, I end up finding a lot of other interesting things. That's why online research can end up taking much more time than I've planned. I start looking for one thing, then end up in a completely different place.
In my internet searches, I've come across a few interesting sites.
Messy Nessy's Cabinet of Chic Curiosities
Run by a blogger named Vanessa, and her small team, most of it is free to read. Other parts of the site require a membership to access. It's entertaining, quirky and loaded with topics that you might have wondered about, but didn't know who to ask. It covers things from history to pop culture, to food, fashion and topics that are hard to characterize.
Topics include things like:
"How Humans Have Toyed with Time'
"How did the Heart Become the Symbol of Love anyway?"
"A Bewitching Compendium of Victorians Letting their Hair Down"
Even if you're not necessarily looking for story ideas, it's a fun place to pass the time.
Described as "the definitive guide to the world’s hidden wonders," there's also a Gastro Obscura section covering food and cooking topics.
The site includes courses, travel opportunities and stories about local attractions in various countries.
Topics include things like:
"How a Canadian Beekeeper Breeds New Queens"
"Bake Victory Cake, the Simple, Inspiring Treat of Wartime America"
Similar to Messy Nessy, it features articles and items of interest that you may have wondered about. The items about international cultural spots and places of interest are especially fascinating.
Writing the Other
Described as a place to "learn to write characters very different than you sensitively and convincingly" the site offers classes and resources for writers, teachers and students. Certainly an excellent place to start any research when writing about people who have different experiences. There's also a book available in addition to videos and podcasts.
Other sites that I've used for research include Pinterest (a good place to keep track of information I've found and books to read), family or baby name sites (to get inspiration for character names) and Wikepedia. And yes, I know that Wikipedia can be edited by anyone, but I usually use it to find posts about mythology or fantasy topics. And it's also a great source when I want to read about episodes on my favorite TV shows. :)
These are just a few of the sites I regularly check out, either for research or for reading up on obscure topics. If you have any favorites you'd like to share, please do!