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Posts tagged ‘research’

Five ways to build your curious nature

I’m a curious person.

My intense curiosity propelled me into a writing career. So when I read Bernadette Jiwa’s post, The Relationship Between Curiosity and Business Growth, my curiosity meter spiked into the red zone.

Jiwa tells about going to her local florist one Friday night and being surprised by the sheer number of roses she found in the shop. Buckets of roses filled almost all the floor space. She assumed they were for a wedding the next day and questioned the florist. The florist explained that the roses were for a customer who bought 110 bunches of 10 roses every Friday evening. The florist didn’t know what the customer did with them.

As a person who lives a life of curiosity, I could hardly stand not having the answer to this question.

Curiosity is what drives children to develop skills, scientists to devise groundbreaking inventions, and writers to write best selling novels by asking “why,” “how,” and “what if.”

The good news is we’re all born with this trait and developing and embracing it can make us better writers. Exercising our creativity can help us be attuned to story ideas, build out better characters, and think of more creative plots.

Make a practice of pursuing your inquisitive nature each day with these tips: Read more

Research made easy: the five-click Google

Writers are fantastic procrastinators. We push papers, arrange paperclips, make those gigantic rubber band balls, and get sucked into the internet faster than the Roadrunner can outrun Mr. Coyote. We use any excuse to delay actually doing what we’re supposed to be doing: writing.

Research is another example. Yes, sometimes we need to do research for our stories or novels but too many of us can get sucked into that bottomless pit never to emerge again. I can’t count the number of times I’ve logged online to “do a little research” and find myself, hours later, knee deep in the different dialects that skinwalkers use. Read more

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. Read more

Why original research is important to your stories

In my last post, “How to make dry research fun,” I wrote about the research I’m doing for my current work-in-progress. I’m writing a story that contains fallen angels, demons, and even the greatest fallen angel of all time.

Part of my research involves reading current novels that contain this subject matter so I can see what’s out there and what’s been done (so I don’t repeat it). But this is not all or even the majority of my research. Most of my reading is of historical texts and references. I’m going back in time to find the “real” history of my characters and themes.

So why not just read what’s hot now? If I were writing a vampire novel, I’d want to read, among others, Stoker’s Dracula, Rice’s Interview with the Vampire, and Meyer’s Twilight (to see what all the fuss is about).

But if I only read these books, I’d be basing my knowledge on other author’s perceptions, themes, and ideas.  Read more

How to make dry research fun

I’m reading The History of the Devil and the Idea of Evil: From the Earliest Times to the Present Dayby Paul Carus as research for my current work-in-progress. It’s not a book I’d normally read. In fact, it took me ages to make it past the first twenty pages—every time I picked up the book, I’d fall asleep. Great for catching up on some Zs but not so great if you’re actually trying to learn something. I don’t blame the author. I was never good at history. I had the same reaction in school—all those dates and past events would make me grow blurry-eyed and sleepy. My head was always in the future.

Yesterday, I made a breakthrough. I told myself I could not move off our front-yard swing (oh, darn!) until I’d read 100 pages. And, I told my obsessive-compulsive self that I didn’t have to read every single word.

It worked! I did read every word (OCD-self wins again) but, in the process of my game, I made another game of it: try to find an angle in all that history that interested me. About 80 pages in, I found it. I discovered what interested me most is not what the bible or other religious texts say about the devil himself but how religion through time has treated the concept of good and evil. Read more

Writing a freelance assignment? Gather the facts

Besides being a newspaper reporter early in my career, I’ve worked in the corporate trenches writing everything from news and feature stories for customer magazines and newsletters, to sales and fundraising letters. I’ve also spent a fair amount of time as a ghostwriter.

After all these years, my work style is second nature, from how I prepare for an assignment to how I interview sources and get into the writing itself.

But I often run into people who are eager to break into copywriting or freelance writing and they want to know how to go about it, so I decided to analyze and share some of my personal best practices.

Read more

Sign up for your most important card — your library card

Whenever I move to a new city, the first thing I do is get my library card, even before a driver’s license.

Not only as a reader, but as a writer, I consider my library card to be my most important card. When I enter a library, I’m stepping into my happy place.

I know several published authors who reserve study rooms at their local libraries when they need a quiet place to work on their books. I’ve done the same thing when I wanted to defeat distraction.

Since today is the first day of National Library Card Sign-up Month, I’m highlighting some of the excellent services available at libraries. Read more