Showing posts with label research. Show all posts
Showing posts with label research. Show all posts

More Research Tips

More Research Tips for Descriptive Writing Projects

We strengthen our writing by using descriptive details that match and develop the topic.
Today let’s talk more about research for descriptive writing.

Research like it’s a treasure hunt to find your perfect topic, or gathering information to expand an interest area. When you land on that topic, consider these points for fresh, active, and believable descriptions:

•    Pursue topics that resonate with you, and inspire you to write

•    Search out topical details, then write them in an organized way to provide the reader a visual pattern they can imagine

•    Be specific with factual details, always fact check to confirm the accuracy

•    Choose details that play a role in your piece, building its credibility

•    When working with a stationary subject—stay with the focus; its texture or its inherent qualities

•    Write to make the subject realistic & relatable

•    Use verbs that don’t need assistance from an adjective to convey action

•    Strong verbs can depict movement: storms, slings, rising, burst, sprawled, staggered, creak, squawk, crackle, shriek, clatter, tinkle, jingle, thud

•    Linking verbs do not convey action. They express a state of being and require an adjective to make sense. If not necessary, linking verbs cause clutter—avoid them

•    State of being—no action—linking verbs include: would, should, can, must, might, may

•    Consider using the narrative, first person point of view, as yourself—write what you see, hear, taste or smell. And, write those details in the same order you notice them.

Idea Categories to investigate and expand:
•    Transportation, information technology, art history
•    Social issues to champion: eldercare, childcare, education
•    Hero’s caring for others
•    Setting up a Website, a Business Platform and Branding
•    Social Media: evaluating and choosing the best platform for your industry, groups, & reaching readers often

Elevate your descriptive writing:
•    Use metaphors, similes, and comparisons
•    Sight, Sound, Taste, and Texture words to add dimension
•    Details that differentiate
•    Stay on point and write with clarity and economy

Earlier Post links in this series—Descriptive Writing for Fiction and Non-Fiction:
Make it with Specificity:
Write it with Research I:

Deborah Lyn Stanley is an author of Creative Non-Fiction. She writes articles, essays and stories. She is passionate about caring for the mentally impaired through creative arts.
Visit her writer’s website at:  
Visit her caregiver’s website and read the Mom & Me memoir at:
Facebook: Deborah Lyn Stanley, Writer

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A Space Travel Guide for Science Fiction Writers

If you or any of your friends write science fiction set in space, check out this great resource: Intergalactic Travel Bureau Vacation Guide to the Solar System, by Olivia Koski and Jana Grcevich.

It's a lot of accesible real science about realistic space travel and how things work on the moon and the planets in our solar system. Mixed in with this science is a lot of great speculation about what tourism would look like in a more space-faring future.

It's already inspired ideas for a couple of short stories, and I'm going to read through a lot of the first chapter again and take notes on what space travel would really be like.

It's also simply a fun and interesting book, beautiful with its helpful illustrations and retro-chic travel posters for outer space.

Check it out from your library or get the Vacation Guide to the Solar System on Amazon. I recommend the actual paper version to appreciate the full aesthetics.

You can read (and listen to) Melinda Brasher's most recent short story sale at Pseudopod.  It's a tale of a man who doesn't believe in superstition...until he has to.  You can also find her fiction in Ember, Timeless Tales, Intergalactic Medicine Show, and others. If you're dreaming about traveling to Alaska, check out her guide book, Cruising Alaska on a Budget; a Cruise and Port Guide. Visit her online at

26 Reasons a Writer Should Blog - Part 5

How is your blog coming along? Are you finding this series helpful? While I don't expect you to put all the suggestions into practice, but I hope some of them are switching on those little light bulbs we often see over people's heads (in pictures anyway). 

On the 20th of each month, we look at four letters of the alphabet. I choose one word per letter which shows how we as writers will benefit if we publish a blog. 

Today we're looking at the letters P to S. As usual, we will choose one word beginning with each letter.

So here we go:

16.  P is for Purpose.
  •  As writers, we all seem to experience desert times, times when we look at the computer screen with a sense of dread wondering what to write. Maybe you're currently busy with a book, but you've hit a road block. See if you can write a post about the problem. If you've hit a snag with one of your characters, how about doing an interview of her on your blog? Ask her about her situation. This might solve your problem, and it will also draw your readers' attention to the novel in progress. 
  • Maybe you're looking for a new project. You could blog a series of suggested topics and ask for input from your readers. Or you could come up with a few possible themes to explore. What would they enjoy learning more about? Following a theme is a great remedy to getting stuck. Like today: I knew I had to come up with reasons for writers to blog, beginning with P, Q, R and S. Somehow, that made it easier to come up with a goal for this session of writing.
  • Another excellent reason for blogging is to research a book project. For example, at the moment I am busy writing a book based on lesser-known women in the Bible. Recently it occurred to me this would be a great series to run on my website. I could just give a sketch of some of the women, and that would promote the book in the process.
  • One other purpose would be to get readers involved choosing names (for the book or for a character). You could continue on your Facebook author page. All of these steps make people aware of the book you're writing. And that can only be a good thing.

17.  Q is for Questions.
  • As a writer, do you often wonder what to write? Use your blog to spark ideas. Ask questions. End each blog post with a question to get your reader thinking about the material you have covered. Can they add to the points you have made? Do they agree with your viewpoint? Encourage them to become interactive with your post, and they will remember you as a writer.
  • Write a post which questions some major decision made by a person in leadership. What do your readers think? Would they go along with the suggestions? Would they choose another approach altogether? Encourage them to ask questions to get your other readers thinking. I have read blogs where a post has become an entertaining and sometimes educational conversation between a group of people. Your goal here is to get readers to interact with each other and with the post. When they hear of the topic in the future they will think of you.
  • Ask your readers to contribute to your blog. Some years ago, I wrote a series of articles on International English on my blog. I gave a number of examples where a certain word in the UK means something entirely different in the USA. I shared anecdotes of times I had said something with my South African English that people in other countries didn't understand. I then asked if anyone had examples they could share of times when International English caused them embarrassment or laughter. I got so much feedback, I wrote two other articles.
  • You can also ask your readers for ideas. Discuss with them your next work-in-progress. Get them involved, and guess what? When the book comes out they will be eager to see how you resolved the issues they had discussed with you. 
18.  R is for Research.
  • How grateful I am for the Internet.. I think back to the years in high school and college and the amount of time I spent visiting the library scouring through thick books for information. Yet today, Google has made it all much easier. We tended to write about topics we knew about, but now we can step right out of our comfort zone and tackle any subject that intrigues us. Because I heard my brother and sister-in-law were going to the Serengeti, and because I knew nothing about this distant part of my continent, I turned to Google. 
  • Of course, there are two dangers to beware of. 
    • The material on Google is often not written by experts, and it may be wrong.  You need to check references or be careful how you word your writing. 
    • Be careful of plagiarism. Google is a great source of information, but you need to write it in your own words or give credit where due. 
  • A blog is an ideal place to share your research, and ask others for further information. Are you writing a historical novel? You can share information you learn that may or may not end up in your story. Ask them for further input. Intrigue your readers so they will want to learn more about you topic and be eager to read your book.
  • Use your blog to get personal reactions to situations or locations. e.g. If you want your hero to come across a woman who survived the Rwanda genocide in 2014, this is not an easy scene for you to imagine. Why not write a blog post? Give some background to what you want to know, and ask if anyone experienced this. You may only get one or two responses to a question like this, but you can then arrange to make contact with them to get first-hand information. This will be way more fascinating than something your imagination, no matter how creative, could dream up.
19.  S is for Scheduling.
  • If you plan to write regularly, you need to advertise what you're writing. I plan ahead what I'm going to write. This is excellent training for writers. Think ahead. Plan ahead. Write ahead. Then, as soon as you've finished the article schedule it to publish the day it's due to go live. You can write an entire series over a few days and schedule each "chapter" to go public once a week for several months. 
  • One of the huge highs and lows of today’s writing world is surely social media! Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn . . . need I go on? All wonderful opportunities to get the word out and to make cyber relationships. They are also incredible time-suckers when it comes to procrastination. How easily we can become overwhelmed. Yet if we are going to write, we need to let our readers know where and when they can read our material.
  • Along came Hootsuite or other such software. Schedule promotions for your blog posts to appear on Twitter. In order to cover all the major time-zones, I suggest you plan on 8-hourly intervals, which means three posts, and then one random at a peak time, according to your time zone, about 24 hours later. You can also schedule the posts to appear on Facebook, but personally I prefer to have the direct interaction with my followers on Facebook. I could never keep up with all my posts if I didn’t schedule them to publish days or even weeks in advance. 
  • Scheduling also helps us plan our time and what we are going to write when. Spread your posts at regular intervals, and as soon as they're written, write the promotions for social media, and then . . . did I mention this? Schedule them.  
 Which of these will you try out during the next month? Leave a note in a comment below and report back how it goes.


26 Reasons to blog - part 1: A - C
26 Reasons to blog - part 2: D - G
26 Reasons to blog - part 3: H - K
26 Reasons to blog - part 4: L - O
Write More Often - Blog Faster

SHIRLEY CORDER lives on the coast in South Africa with her husband, Rob. Her book, Strength Renewed: Meditations for your Journey through Breast Cancer, has brought encouragement and inspiration to a multitude of friends and contacts across the world.

Visit Shirley through where she encourages writers, or at where she encourages those in the cancer valley. You can also meet with her on Twitter or Facebook.

Sign up to receive a short devotional message from Shirley in your inbox once a week. 

Understanding The Connection Between Writing And Research

Guest post by Lesley Vos

To many people, the term “research” seems intimidating, scientific, time-consuming and all together a big, pointless headache. However, research is an essential part of the writing process.

What is research?

Research is the systematic investigation of a particular topic. It involves the study of various materials and sources. The ultimate purpose of research is to unearth facts, reach new conclusions, and revise preconceived notions.

Being a writer or a blogger, you need to understand the connection between research and writing process itself, as it's impossible to create any outstanding and really awesome writings without facts behind them.

Let’s take the definition of research and break it down into three important parts.

1. Systematic investigation

When writers engage in research, there must be some method to the madness. The process must be systematic, organized, and logical.

This is especially important when it comes to citation. All research must be properly cited. This helps prevent accusations of plagiarism. It also lends a much needed element of credibility. Without proper organization throughout the research process, citations will be difficult to come by.

2. Materials and sources study

The research process involves the use of various materials and sources. These sources could be:

•    Professional journals
•    Magazines
•    Newspapers
•    Books
•    Websites
•    TV
•    Radio
•    Podcasts

One of the most important aspects of research is credibility. It should be noted that not all sources are created equally. Writers won’t be able to establish credibility if the source isn’t reliable. Peer reviewed professional journals, for example, are more reliable than a personal blog.

This portion of the research definition is probably the one that provokes the most phobic reaction. Writers dread the prospect of pouring over dusty books in a dark, dank portion of the library hoping to unearth a nugget of valuable information.

Fortunately, not all research requires such methods—or even printed materials. Research comes in various forms. For example, it might include personal observations. Sitting on a park bench, “people watching,” might provide the information you need.

The research a fiction writer embarks on might simply be market research. What do fans in this genre want to read?

3. Taking facts, reaching new conclusions, revising preconceived notions

Research does not simply involve gathering information. It also involves analysis and interpretation. The information must be constructed into meaning. Facts alone won’t make a logical argument.

For example, it is a fact that each Major League Baseball team plays 162 games in roughly 180 days. But if the writer doesn’t interpret those facts into relevant supporting date, it means nothing.

Does the writer want to express the idea that each team will need a variety of pitchers to survive such a grueling schedule? Does the writer want to point out that the baseball team owners stand to earn a lot of money off ticket sales?

To be effective, research must involve analysis.

Why is research important?

In the world of academic writing, research is often conducted for the sole purpose of learning to do research. Students must show they understand the process and are evaluated on their effectiveness.

Many writers assume the art of research ends once the tassel has been moved to the other side of the mortarboard. However, they couldn’t be more wrong!

Personal experience lends quite a bit of validity to an author’s writing. However, nothing can replace quality research—regardless of the writing style.

There are many reasons why research is important; here are just a few.


Unless you have a whole bunch of alphabet soup behind your name referencing all the degrees and professional distinctions you’ve earned, you’re going to need the help of people who have earned those recognitions.

If your ideas align with those of industry leaders, your points suddenly seem valid. Without credibility lent from other people, your argument will fall flat.


Reading is one of the greatest ways to learn new information. It has a significant impact on not only your writing, but on life overall. Reading is often encouraged as a way to improve writing. But when you incorporate research into the act of reading, it becomes even more significant.

Research helps the writer better understand the topic at hand. The writer probably already has a general understanding of one aspect of the issue; research helps the writer understand all sides of the argument. Research unearths the contributing factors that the writer would otherwise be ignorant of.
Once the writer has become more educated about the topic, he or she is able to speak as an authority. The writer’s voice will be more informed and influential.

Publication Expectations

In order to get your writing published in credible, noteworthy publications, you’ll need to conduct research and cite your sources. This is an industry standard that must be adhered to.

Many professions rely on published works. Doctors strive to get published in medical journals. Bloggers hope their ideas can get shared on more noteworthy sites. It doesn’t matter the type of writing or the final source of publication, the process is quite significant.

Plagiarism Prevention

It is possible to set out on a writing project with opinions and ideas that seem groundbreaking. You might think your ideas are totally unique and will cause quite a stir among the readers.

However, it is possible that your idea really isn’t all that new. Perhaps someone else has already thought of it—and had it published. If you take credit for that person’s ideas—even if it was unintentional—it’s considered plagiarism.

Research will reveal all pertinent information about a particular topic. It will help prevent the writer from claiming someone else’s work as their own.

It doesn’t matter the topic or type of writing; research is an essential part of the writing process. Researching data and interpreting the findings should be a standard for all writing projects.


Lesley Vos is a blogger. She creates content on the topic of writing, education, student life, and digital marketing. Lesley contributes to many authoritative websites and writes her e-book now. More works of hers are available on Google+.


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Image Copyright 2013 Karen Cioffi


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Making Use of Unexpected Free Time

March may have roared in like a lion, but it also came with a sprained ankle! Yes, on March 1, I fell and sprained my ankle. Since I was supposed to stay off my feet to recuperate (I needed a wife, but that’s another post for a different blog), I had time on my hands. What to do? Well I could still use my laptop so I got online and did some research and writing. I also decided to wade through some of those books that I haven't read.  

How much have I accomplished? Well, not as much as I would have liked. I read one book each week. I researched my family tree, (another ongoing project) as some of it could end up in a book or article or perhaps just inspire me. I didn't write anything prolific, but I did write.

Since cabin fever had set in, I attended the March meetings of my book club and my writers group, the following week. I had to hobble around with my cane, but I managed. In between the meetings, I did some research at the local public library. It was good to be out of the house for awhile, but the going was slow.

I’m glad I was able to do something constructive during my recovery this month, but hopefully April will be better!

What did you accomplish this month? (And I bet you didn't sprain your ankle!)

Debbie A. Byrne has a B.S. in Mass Communication with a minor in History. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and is working on her first children’s book.

Using Personality Typologies to Build Your Characters

  Contributed by Margot Conor People often have asked me how I build such varied and interesting character profiles. I’m fond of going into ...