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,