Monday, July 14, 2008

I've Been Searchin' Ever Which Way

Who said “The only good is knowledge and the only evil is ignorance?”

The only way to find out is to research. It doesn’t matter if you are writing fiction, non-fiction, for children, teens or adults; some one will ask you “How do you know?” (Gee no pressure here)

How does one create under this veil? Author Eve Bunting recommends “Be your self. That is the only way you can be anyhow…” Bunting has sold 167 books for young people. She advises: “Love the subject before you write about it. You won’t work up to your potential if you don’t.”

Do you know who said this yet?

“The only good is knowledge and the only evil is ignorance.”

I’m not telling you. Go research it and come back here to tell me.

A Few Pitfalls of Research

Avoid Lists of Facts Masquerading as an Article. Have you ever been told by an editor that they don’t want encyclopedia articles or more recently wikipedia articles? An encyclopedia is a compilation of facts about your subject and not the article. Your article will depend on how you handle those facts. It is a good idea to consult more than one source. Don’t start writing until you understand and process your material.

The use of too many passive verbs in your article or manuscript should be a red flag to you. This means you are just repeating information and have not internalized your subject yet allowing you to develop your own unique interpretation.

Unverified Web Sources

Don’t be sucked in by slick presentations. Investigate the authority of your sources. Never accept a Web page at face value; always check context. Click on the Home button and find out the owner of the site for further investigation if needed. Here are seven questions to ask yourself as you surf the Web.

1. Who are the author and the publisher?
2. What are their credentials?
3. How comprehensive is the coverage?
4. Is this an impartial site or one with paid links?
5. What is the original date of the information?
6. What is the historical context of the information?
7. Is the information verifiable through another reputable source?

My research for this post came from “Searching, A Research Guide for Writers” published by Writer’s Institute Publications.

Write it down,



  1. Hi Carma,

    According to the majority of internet sites, that quote is from Socrates, but I did find a site that claimed it was said by Herodotus. Isn't the internet wonderful?

    But you're right! We have to verify information we find out there and not simply accept it at face value.


  2. Socrates...verifying info is crucial and necessary. Great post.


  3. Carma,

    Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment - the music is on the slide show at the bottom of the page - I picked it when I set up the slide.

    I haven't looked at your other comments yet but the quote is from Socrates - as per -

    I have to say this was a good topic to have as a posting. Research is so important, especially when you want to make the writing as correct as possible. I have been a prime example of how much research goes into a work as my geography series (yay - first book is out and ready for purchase) needed lots of research; not only on my part but my illustrator's part as well. She had to research for the perfect "model" or "models" to use for her illustrations of each of my clues. Overall, the illustrations are great and fit the book perfectly.

    So research and write - a good formula to follow. (Just don't get bogged down in all the research and forget to write).

    See you all in the postings - E :)

  4. Yeah! Theresa and Donna you are both right.

    I know it wasn't a huge query to take a lot of time. Just something fun.

    Thanks for taking the time to look it up.

  5. Hi Carma,

    Wonderful information for the writer! Sometimes what I find about research is that the more I do, the more value I can sometimes put in my writing.

    Thanks as always,

  6. Elysabeth,
    Thanks for your participation and comment. I can and have gotten bogged down in the research especially when it is an intgriguing topic.

    Congratulations on your book. I listened to your interview with Suzanne on Book bites for Kids a while back regarding your book. It sounds like a fun type book where kids can learn even if they don't like learning.


  7. Hi Judy, most of the time I get involved in research I find it so rewarding.


  8. Carma,

    The quote is from Socrates. I enjoy researching. If there's something I don't know, if no one in my family knows the answer, I hit the internet. Cool tool!

    Thanks for a fun post... have a great night!

    Lisa Kirby