Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Organizing Your Research

Writer Wednesday

While writers write about what they love, they don't always write about what they know. This means they have to do research in order to make their writing believable and accurate. Whether it's the geographical location, the clothing of a different era, or the customs of a foreign country, if the facts aren't right, the reader will be disappointed and discouraged. The writing itself may be wonderful, but too many errors, and you will probably lose that reader for life.

The solution? Lots and lots of research. Research that you need to compile and save for future reference. So then the issue becomes--what to do with all this research.

• Any research you do for a project should be kept with that project. For example, you are writing an historical set in Turn of the Century New York. Everything that you research, from geography to architecture to transportation, should be kept in a file with your chapters and synopsis.
• Separate your notes by subject. Keep costume (men's, women's and children's) notes together. Keep culinary info together. Keep society notes together, etc.
• If you copy any information from a book, copy the title page also so you can identify the source.
• When you borrow a book from the library, write down the call number in addition to the title and author so you can easily find it again if you need it.
• When you handwrite notes, keep a running page for each subject. Make sure you identify the source for each note you take.
• You may be taking notes on a variety of subjects from each source, so they will be spread over a number of pages. Create a master file of your sources, identifying them by number. When you cite the source in your notes, you'll just need to write down the number rather than the title, author, ISBN, etc.

Next week: More on organizing your Research

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