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Tips for creating a reading list for your work-in-progress

In my posts last week I wrote about why original research is important to your stories and how to make dry research fun. When I have a writing project that requires research, such as my current work-in-progress, I create a list on my computer to keep myself organized.

Some quick tips for creating a research reading list:

Write it down. Sounds obvious but there have been times when I’ve said to myself, “Oh, I have to read that book,” then promptly forgotten about it. Write the name of the book down on a pad of paper or even on your hand, if you have to, until you can add it to the list on your computer.

Update it often. The more research you do, the more you’ll realize you need to know AND the more you’ll realize maybe you don’t need some of those books on your list. I just revamped my reading list, taking off about ten books that I felt I didn’t need to read anymore and adding a few new ones.

Ask the experts. Find some people familiar with your subject matter and ask them for references—books, articles, museums, other people to talk to, etc.

Don’t limit yourself to books. I’m always looking for movies, documentaries, events, museums, etc. that can help me learn more about my subject matter. It makes the whole research thing more enjoyable and makes slogging through that 400-page text on my nightstand bearable.

Below are a few examples from my current research list. If you have any tips to add to mine, please share in the comments below.

I. Fiction

Fallen by Lauren Kate

Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

Memnoch the Devil by Anne Rice

Angel Time by Anne Rice

Paradise Lost by Milton

The Divine Comedy by Dante

II. Non-Fiction Research Books

The Grand Design by Stephen Hawking

The World of Shamanism by Roger Walsh

The Lost Art of Enochian Magic by John DeSalvo, Ph.D.

III. Non-Fiction Writing Books

The Hero’s Journey by Christopher Vogler

Writing 21st Century Fiction by Donald Maass


“Angels: Good or Evil?” by the History Channel

“The History of the Devil” by Kultur

V. Writing Events

Story Masters workshop with Don Maass, Chistopher Vogler, and James Scott Bell for intensive work on current manuscript with the masters

VI. Travels

Visit Quilicene museum

Travel to Dosewallips river area, take pictures and explore

Visit the electrical museum in Bellingham, sit in the Tesla coil zapper

VII. Interviews

Dr. S. about tesla and frequency work

Mrs. W. about medicine wheels

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