April 14th, 2017
First, thanks to Douglas for last week’s blog. It really goes to show that you should never shy away from approaching experts if you need facts for your writing. There are innumerable museums, stately homes, art galleries, and state-of-the-art tourist attractions out there. A quick email to their PR department or to the address indicated on their website could put you in touch with someone who can help you with your research. Who knows, you may even get a personal guided tour!
And don’t dismiss factories, garden centres and retail outlets. If you want food facts, information on how things are made, or grow, don’t be afraid to ask. What’s the worst that can happen? They might say no and you’ll have to move on to the next source on your list. Have confidence in yourself – think positively and act positively! Read the rest of this entry »
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April 7th, 2017
A while back – maybe a year maybe two – I’d listened in to a radio article about the public clocks in Edinburgh and how they were all to be fully automated by the end of 2016. I wrote a flash fiction out of that listening. Then early this year I re-read the flash and thought there was a fuller story to be told, so I started in on it… only to discover how little I knew about clocks and big mechanisms. I needed to do some research.
Usually my research involves trawling the internet, but what was missing for my story was the feel and the smell and the sound of turret-clocks. There are no records for that. I needed to see for myself. I wrote to St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh. I knew they had one such clock and I knew they did tours of the Cathedral, but I did not know if these tours took you inside the clock-tower. I was put in touch with David, The Beadle. Read the rest of this entry »
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May 6th, 2016
This week is something of a miscellany because there are a few things I want to mention. First, I can’t say I was really surprised when I heard that the two-month old newspaper, New Day, from the Trinity Mirror group was closing down.
I’m a hybrid when it comes to getting my news fix. I pick up what I want online, still enjoy sitting down and watching bulletins on TV and then I buy a big, bulky, satisfying newspaper on Sunday and thoroughly enjoy it. I love the supplements, the in-depth features and the fact that the coverage it gives is still truly international. There’s a postal strike in Venezuela that’s been going on for the last month? Wow, how could I live without that snippet! Read the rest of this entry »
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March 4th, 2016
You’ve probably heard the advice: write about what you know. This is sensible as far as it goes but no-one – whether you’re writing fiction or non-fiction – can produce informative, authoritative, realistic writing without doing research.
The good news is that most of us find researching one of the most enjoyable and rewarding parts of the job. In fact, the real danger is that you become so engrossed in your research that you keep going deeper and deeper rather than getting down to the writing. You’ll also have to make sure that you don’t let yourself get side-tracked. It’s a fact that most research projects take longer than you originally anticipated; so always make allowances for this. It’s particularly important to avoid the trap if you have deadlines to meet. Plus, you don’t want to spend so long on your research that you end up working for next-to-nothing. Read the rest of this entry »
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December 4th, 2015
Whether you are researching a non-fiction article or a full-length book, it pays to be meticulous about your research.
If you are making notes from a reference book, and have found a useful fact, carefully write down the name of the page number, author, book, date published, edition, and publisher. This is so you can easily find it if you need to refer to it again. If you prefer to type up your research as you are going along, then type the whole reference in brackets (or whatever suits you best) so you have a record of it – you can always edit it out later if needed.
Depending on your book publisher, you may have to provide source references for each chapter, and your life will be made much easier if you have noted them down throughout the writing process. Read the rest of this entry »
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