Tag Archives: research

Getting it Right


Writing and ResearchWriting.  What a challenge. Whether you write fiction or non-fiction, facts are part of your writing.  If your work is not accurate, someone will catch your mistake and you will hear about it!  For the nonfiction writer truth and accuracy must be adhered to.  Since readers may not be able to discern the difference, the nonfiction writer assumes this responsibility – and the accompanying accountability.

Many writers refer to and utilize historical facts, experts, interviews and research.  You must be aware of copyright issues, of individuals that claim expertise but are not experts, plagiarism, and the authenticity of memoir writing.The Everything Guide

The Everything Guide to Writing Nonfiction by Richard D. Bank covers many of these issues and can be useful not only to the non-fiction writer, but any writer needing to address these concerns.  If you do your own research then look to The Craft of Research by Wayne Booth, Gregory Colomb and Joseph Williams, or The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Research Methods by Laurie E. Rozakis, Ph.D. (definitely written with me in mind.)

For tidbits of historical facts look into The Timetables of History – A Horizontal Linkage of People and Events by Bernard Grun and  The Reader’s Companion to American History  edited by Eric Foner & John A. Garraty.

The Timetables of HistoryThese are just a few references on my bookshelf.  Do keep in mind however, that just because information is published, even in a scholarly work – and may even be on the New York Times bestseller list, this does not mean that everything is the truth. (Or, I got it off the Internet so it must be true!) Legends can and are perpetuated and digging for the truth can reveal some very interesting and revealing reasons for misinformation in original documents and memoirs.

So, writers beware – because these days readers are very aware.

What is your biggest challenge in getting it right in your own writing?

Donna Otto

 

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Filed under memoir, methods, organizing, research, writing advise

A New Tool for Internet Research


As a writer, I’m always looking for ideas that help keep me organized, especially if they don’t involve an excess of paper. I like my research readily available, but I hate to have to carry a huge notebook around with me, with reams of paper wasted because I wanted to print out one paragraph, and ended up with everything on the website.

My new answer is Pinterest.com. Yes, I got hooked a few months ago on the site, and have since “pinned” all sorts of crafts and recipes that I will never try. But then I had this great realization. It’s basically a site that holds hundreds of bookmarks organized in categories with visual cues. Hmm… I can use something like that.

I tried it. First, I created a board with my novel’s title. Then I searched for pictures of people who I “cast” as characters for my novel, and I pinned them. Now if I can’t remember what color eyes my antagonist has, I just pull up his photo, and voila!

My novel takes place in Paris, in several well-known parts of the city, as well as the less-recognizable areas. A few websites pinned, and I have detailed descriptions of bridges, hotels, shops and museums.

I can pin websites for my characters’ weapons, props, vehicles, clothes, gadgets, and languages. If I need to recall something, I just click on the picture and jump to the site with that information. I love it.

If you don’t want your research pins to become public, just create a “secret board” which is a new feature offered by Pinterest.

The only really important thing to remember with the site is that you must exercise self-control. If you want to look up something, you cannot allow yourself to browse through your friends’ newest finds. If you need to see a map of Barcelona, Spain, you can’t let yourself get caught in the newest crock-pot chicken recipe. This is to help keep you organized, thus saving time—not wasting it.

Currently, I have research boards for two novels on Pinterest, and at the end of this month will start another. This new tool has saved me hundreds of pages of paper, several cartridges of ink, and hours of searching for information. It might help you, too!

Do you use Pinterest?  How has it helped you with your writing?

By Kim Black

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Filed under characters, description, organizing, research, Writing, writing advise

On Writing the World


I recently took a trip for my day job employer, going from Lubbock, (west) Texas to Mississippi, and on to points in Arkansas and Louisiana. You wouldn’t think there would be that much difference in the land and culture. You wouldn’t think so.

First thing you notice coming in from the air is that great big river. We have some creeks which run in rainy weather, but nothing to compare with “Ol’ Man River.”

Jackson is carved out of hills and trees, and the drive to Vicksburg is beautiful, but foreign, to a plains boy who’s used to seeing for miles and miles.

Staying at a casino hotel in Vicksburg, I watched and photographed the barges making their way up and down the Mississippi, making that grand turn at the bend.

Over the river in Arkansas and Louisiana, you see the flat ground of the Mississippi Delta. Farmland and trees, bayous and river runs.

It’s the people who make it different, though. Peddling farm implements, I meet agricultural equipment dealers. They have their own way about things. It’s like a tee shirt I saw in a touristy shop. It said, “We don’t care how you do it ‘up north.'” That’s the truth. What works elsewhere just don’t necessarily work in the Delta. And when deer season comes, well, you wait until it’s over. They are serious about deer hunting. And duck hunting. And fishing. You get the idea.

History is different there. It was settled by European interlopers a century or more before my area was. The civil war still echoes. Racial tensions, too. Palpable. Not that we don’t have them in Lubbock, but I was unprepared for their intensity the first time I went.

You may be wondering by now: what does this have to do with writing? Contrast. It’s hard to get a view of culture until you see the differences, really understand that while people hold certain common beliefs and concepts, they are unique in many ways. That contrast can breed conflict or delight, very valuable commodities when you’re penning a story.

If you want to write about the world, get out in it.

Joe Trent

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Filed under characters, description, methods, show don't tell, story, techniques, Writing, writing advise