In a previous “Have You Heard” post, I extolled all the great things Writing With Color provides. But if you want to create a story about a culture other than your own, then you’ll need some hard data. Do you check Wikipedia for factoids? Here’s a better option! You can look at the World Culture Encyclopedia (a.k.a. everyculture.com), which gives great breakdowns on cultures from Afghanistan to Zambia, from French Canadians to Afro-Colombians.
Each entry provides an overview of a country’s geography, language, national identity, diet, industries, class systems, social problems, family units, etiquette, art, and sometimes even more, depending on which nation you research. A well-cited bibliography caps off each section. All this information can be dense, so don’t expect to go though it all in one sitting.
Also, don’t try to put all your findings in one story! When I wrote “I Am A Mountain (y estoy hundiendome),” I began my research with this long entry on Mexican-Americans. Of the notes I wrote down, I used only 10% of the facts I listed. Lucha Corpi seems cool, but I don’t think she needs to get name-dropped in a superhero story. The World Culture Encyclopedia should provide you with a background for your story… not a prong for your thesis.