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Don’t Skimp On Research

October 25th, 2019

First, thanks to Sim for last week’s post. I see so many poems come in to our competitions each year (and I enjoy reading them all) so I know good advice when I see it and I feel he’s hit the nail on the head. It’s not always wise to enter competitions with the biggest prizes – the entry fees are often high and you’re up against really serious competition. Your wallet and your self-esteem can be dented if you get knocked-back too often. There are lots of competitions out there, so be selective about those you enter, think carefully about their requirements and consider the judges.  In other words, do your research properly and then make sure you stick to the rules and never, ever send a poem that you’re not 100% committed to. Read the rest of this entry »




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Keeping Your Research In Context

May 24th, 2019

Ann Williams was the winner of our student-only Book Review Competition. Below are her tips on how writers can make the most of their research without ‘swamping’ the text with what they’ve uncovered.

 

“Writers, whether in fiction or non-fiction, need to research. The internet has made this so much easier, cutting out trips to the reference library, museums or record offices. Facts can be checked from the comfort of your own home, whenever convenient. However, this easy access to material offers pitfalls of its own.

A simple check for a date, the direction of travel from A to B or the colour of a flower can lead to a mass of information, all of which may be new and fascinating to the writer. It is natural to want to share new-found knowledge but if it is unnecessary for the theme of the article or the flow of the story it needs to be drastically distilled to what is relevant. Read the rest of this entry »




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Using Your Research to Fuel Your Writing

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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Clocking up Some First-hand Experience

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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Another One Bites The Dust

May 6th, 2016

newday-blogThis 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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