Want Tips on Conducting Research for Your Project? #amwriting

researchHere on Daily (w)rite, as part of the guest post series, it is my absolute pleasure today to welcome author and teacher, Rebecca Reynolds. She has appeared on this blog before, to talk about how to conduct successful interviews and today she shares her wisdom on conducting research for a fiction or non-fiction project.

You may want to carry out research for your writing – to supply some period colouring, or historical detail, or simply to prevent howlers like having Romans eat tomatoes (in fact they were first cultivated by Aztecs and Incas and came to Europe from the New World).

The research I did for a non-fiction work, Curiosities from the Cabinet: Objects and Voices from Britain’s Museums, involved finding out all I could about each of the 36 objects in the book, then slimming this down into short introductions to longer contributions from interviewees about each one.

So, now I’m out the other side here are some reflections on the research process:

  • Check as often as you have time for. Even very knowledgeable people can be inaccurate, accidentally or on purpose. I found one interviewee’s contribution needed chopping in half and a disclaimer that this was their ‘personal vision’ added. Others omitted central things, or occasionally got facts wrong.
  • It’s difficult when you can’t find evidence to support something which is widely accepted. One of the objects in the book is ‘the vegetable lamb,’ a fern that looks like a plant/animal hybrid which appeared in many cabinets of curiosity. After hours in the British Library and elsewhere, I couldn’t actually find any evidence that anyone had ever believed it was a cross between an animal and plant, but plenty of evidence that people believed other people believed it, or wanted to believe it themselves. Likewise, I couldn’t find evidence that Milton had definitely worked on his epic Paradise Lost in his country cottage, now a museum, despite being told this by the curator and by the museum’s publicity. I wimped out both times, saying that Milton ‘probably’ worked on the book there, and that people were ‘said to believe’, the lamb was a cross.
  • Research is sooo much easier than it used to be. At times, it’s a click and you’re there. At times, I felt I was doing little more than reconfiguring what was already on the web. Charles Darwin’s letters, with notes summarizing each letter, biographies of the correspondents, links to further letters between them and a keyword search facility? I’ll take that. Online account books for the slave trading voyages of ex-Mayor of Liverpool Thomas Leyland? I’ll take that too (thanks, University of Michigan).
  • Research is time-consuming. And the results often don’t pay off in the word count.
  • Nitpicking academic articles rock. Particularly if they pin down a fact or find a source which would have taken you forever (or more likely never), such as whether friends of philosopher Jeremy Bentham socialized with his clothed corpse (they almost certainly did).
  • Write down more than you think you’ll need. I’ve had to return to a book two or even three times to pin something down exactly, when my notes were too skimpy.
  • Wikipedia? Sure, not rigorous, but a very very good starting (and sometimes finishing) point.
  • And when in the writing process should you do it? The teacher on the first ever creative writing class I attended asked this question and the answer, to our surprise, was towards the end of the writing process – so that it would not swamp the narrative. Instead, info should be sought out when needed. This is very different from my experience of academic document-based research, where you will probably have to let existing findings call the tune to a much greater extent.

Wherever your work lies between these two extremes, I would recommend having a clear aim in mind when you start – though surprises can, and hopefully will, happen.

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Curiosities from the Cabinet: Objects and Voices from Britain’s Museums is available from Amazon , Smashwords , and to order from your local bookshop.

How to conduct ResearchRebecca Reynolds is a teacher and non-fiction writer. Her main places of museums work have been the Victoria and Albert Museum, London and the Museum of English Rural Life, Reading. She blogs here.

How do you conduct research for your writing, and what stage? Are you a reader, a writer, or both? Care to tell us about an interesting bit of research you’ve done for your projects? As a reader or writer, do you have questions for Rebecca?

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I co-host the monthly We Are the World Blogfest: I’d like to invite you to join, if you haven’t as yet, to post the last Friday of each month a snippet of positive news that shows our essential, beautiful humanity. You could add a link and a badge to one of your regular posts that weekend, in order to participate.

This monthly event has brought smiles on the faces of a lot of participants and their audiences, and somewhat restored their faith in humanity. Here is a sampler. Click here to know more. Sign up here and add your bit of cheer to the world on the next installment on August 25th!

Writer's Retreat

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Did You Give or Receive Love Today? Anyone Need a Hug? #socialmedia

Love someone

Kindness, love, brotherhood, beauty– all of them look closer to fiction than fact as I receive dark news from all over the world. Or maybe it is my dark frame of mind as I start on a new novel.

I don’t know that I can change the world. But each of us can make a change in our own worlds, and bring about a change, however tiny, for someone else.

I try to be a positive presence in life, and online, for writer friends and readers– and today, I’d just like to reach out to everyone who visits: talk to me about your triumphs, the good things that happened to you, the kindness you gave and received, things that made you smile and laugh. And if it is a sadness you want to share (if you’re comfortable with doing so here or via messages or email) and just want someone to listen, I’m here.

I have a bad back today, but I also had a few good meals, read a book, got a bit of work done, got a few smiles and hugs. That’s my happiness for the day sorted, love given and received. Sending out love, light and hugs to all my bloggy friends on here.

What bit of love did you give or receive today? Want to tell us your good news? Tell us what you’re upset about? Anyone need a hug?


If you need more positives and smiles in your lives, I co-host the monthly We Are the World Blogfest: I’d like to invite you to join. Post a snippet of positive news that shows our essential, beautiful humanity on Bloggingthe last Friday of each month– and read heartwarming snippets from others.

This monthly event has brought smiles on the faces of a lot of participants and their audiences, and somewhat restored their faith in humanity. Here is a sampler. Click here to know more. Sign up here and add your bit of cheer to the world on the next installment of August 25th!

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Please join Daily (w)rite on its Facebook Page in case you’d like to be heard by this community.If you liked this post, you can have biweekly posts delivered to your inbox: click the SUBSCRIBE VIA EMAIL button.

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Have You Mispronounced Words Cos You’ve Only Ever Read Them? #AmReading

pronounce words readingReading has been a lifelong passion, and English not my native tongue, so I’ve had a few embarrassing moments of not knowing how to correctly pronounce words that I’ve read and written often. (I used to mispronounce ‘vehemently’ as ‘Ve-He-mently’ for some time before I heard it spoken in a TV series.)

So it was with a fair bit of amusement (i.e. laughing at myself) that I read this article about words we mispronounce because we’ve never heard them spoken. Someone sent it across after we’d had a bit of a discussion on how to pronounce Greenwich (not as “Green-witch”, but as “Gren-itch”). Pronouncing words you’ve only ever read can be tricky. The article says:

Does any of this really matter? If I say “SKED-ule” and you say “SHED-ule”, will any farcical misunderstandings or tragic loss of life ensue? Is the controversy over “con-TROV-ersy” not just a waste of everyone’s breath? Sure, but that was never the point. Like so many linguistic arguments, the power-struggles over correct pronunciation are most often proxies for issues of snobbery and class. The completely unpredictable pronunciations of many proper names in English, for example, act as a kind of secret code for the elect. Plainly the aristocracy have better things to do than to laboriously speak all the syllables in a word, and so Cholmondeley is pronounced “Chumley”. Obviously. And if you don’t know that Magdalene College, Cambridge, is actually pronounced “Maudlin” (and how could you ever guess?), that instantly marks you out as an outsider.

I still feel embarrassed about some of my mistakes (I did not realize Yosemite was pronounced ‘Yose-mi-tee’ until last year), and the fact that some words are pronounced very differently by Americans and British doesn’t help either (‘respite’, for instance). Malapropisms and eggcorns abound in my surroundings, and make things worse. It is good to know I’m not the only one having a hard time with pronunciations, though: here are a few more people who have made these goof-ups.

A dear friend of mine, while learning English, couldn’t get the hang of ‘Kitchen.’ She invariably called it ‘Chicken’. I corrected her, of course. It has remained a fond memory, and we dissolve into laughter every time we talk about it. I’ll only ever correct a pronunciation if I know the speaker very well though, and then always in a private setting.

What about you? Ever ‘mis-pronounce’ a word? Any phrases you got wrong, or heard someone else utter an eggcorn or a malapropism? Have you ever had trouble pronouncing a word in the right way? Do you feel it is snobbish to correct mispronunciations in other people?


I co-host the monthly We Are the World Blogfest: I’d like to invite you to join, if you haven’t as yet, to post Fvourite Placethe last Friday of each month a snippet of positive news that shows our essential, beautiful humanity.

This monthly event has brought smiles on the faces of a lot of participants and their audiences, and somewhat restored their faith in humanity. Here’s a sampler. Click here to know more. Sign up here and add your bit of cheer to the world on the next installment of August 25th!

Please join Daily (w)rite on its Facebook Page in case you’d like to be heard by this community. If you liked this post, you can have biweekly posts delivered to your inbox: click the SUBSCRIBE VIA EMAIL button.

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What are Your Thoughts on #Writing and Coffee? #WriteBravely

Write Tribe Day FoxToday is the last day of the Write Tribe Festival of Words. Yesterday’s prompt was interview someone on your blog,” and today’s is a rather cryptic one: “If we were having coffee.”

I’d like to thank everyone for their patience with my daily posts, and to those who have visited and commented– I’m grateful, and am working on visiting back!. I’ve indulged myself this week, but shall go back to regular programming from the next one– one to two posts a week, and a lot of visiting in between.

Writing and coffee go together for a lot of writers, and the magical power of this beverage is said to fuel stories. Since I’m more of a tea drinker, I’ve naturally taken today’s prompt as an excuse for fiction,  and here’s the story:

Writing and Coffee
(Click on image for larger version)

 


What are your thought on writing and coffee? Love it, hate it? Do you have a coffee story? What do you think of the flash fiction here– what do you think it is about? Do you write fiction based on prompts?

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I co-host the monthly We Are the World Blogfest: I’d like to invite you to join, if you haven’t as yet, to post Fvourite Placethe last Friday of each month a snippet of positive news that shows our essential, beautiful humanity.

This monthly event has brought smiles on the faces of a lot of participants and their audiences, and somewhat restored their faith in humanity. Here’s a sampler. Click here to know more. Sign up here and add your bit of cheer to the world on the next installment on August 25th!

Please join Daily (w)rite on its Facebook Page in case you’d like to be heard by this community. If you liked this post, you can have biweekly posts delivered to your inbox: click the SUBSCRIBE VIA EMAIL button.

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Would You Join in the We Are the World Blogfest? #WATWB #WriteBravely

Write Tribe Day FoxToday is the sixth day of the Write Tribe Festival of Words. Yesterday’s prompt was “write a letter to someone,” and today’s is “interview someone on your blog.”

If you’ve read Daily (w)rite before, you know that I help co-host the monthly We Are the World Blogfest (WATWB). But for the purposes of this post, I’ll pretend I know nothing about it, and use this prompt to interview Belinda Witzenhausen, my partner-in- WATWB, and hope that it will persuade some of you to join this event!

WATWB is an event where participants add a link and an excerpt to News that shows the good side of humanity, in less than 500 words.

A post is eligible if

-it holds the badge,

-is posted over the last weekend of the month, and

-mentions and links to a piece of positive news.

These can be added to a regular post in order to be considered as participation.

Blogfest


  1. What is We are the World Blogfest?

We are the World Blogfest is what I would like to call a “positivity” beacon, shining light through what seems to be the never-ending darkness and negativity prevalent in social media these days. #WATWB is a group of dedicated bloggers led by five co-hosts each month, who choose to do our part to infuse social media with all the good stories that are out there. We hope to share the stories that show kindness, compassion, hope, overcoming challenges and in general, the impressive resilience of the human spirit. On the last Friday of every month, we post our stories on our blogs then visit the rest of the blogs where we comment, like and share as many #WATWB posts as we can.

2. How did the We Are The World Blogfest come to be?

In January, being totally frustrated and overwhelmed with the way people were treating each other on social media I wrote a blog post titled “Be The Change”.  My post was truly born out of being totally overwhelmed by all the negativity on my social media feeds. I’m not into complaining about something without first trying to do something to change it. I guess it struck a chord with quite a few people and various dialogues opened within a group of online friends, including yourself. In one of our discussions we decided that we needed to do something and while bouncing ideas around, you suggested a blogfest which seemed to be a perfect platform, thus we put together WATWB.

We Are the World Blogfest3. WATWB is a monthly event. Do you find it difficult to come up with a post each month? What tips would you give to potential participants?

Not at all. I think we all have a cause or topic that we are passionate about. I have a social services background and am co-owner of a website called ProfessorOwl’sBookCorner.com dedicated to children with special needs. In our monthly newsletter, we often feature profiles of “heroes” who are children with special needs who have overcome odds and are thriving. That is what I’m passionate about…I love stories about people beating the odds, ignoring labels and living life on their terms. I think if you can find something meaningful for you, it makes this whole experience inspirational. My biggest tip is to be yourself, follow your passions/causes and really involve yourself in the process. The first month might be a challenge but the more you participate the more you get out of it. Since WATWB’s inception, I sadly had a death in the family as well as some personal challenges and I found going through the posts very empowering and cathartic, it made a difference.

4. How can WATWB be beneficial to a participant’s blog?

I love doing WATWB because it spreads positivity but it also helps you make connections to other like-minded bloggers. We are starting to build a positive, global, interactive online community. We have both a FB Group and FB Page where we interact with other co-hosts, offer support and help each other out.  We have bloggers from all around the world and from all walks of life opening both our eyes and minds to other global perspectives.

6. What is the one request you would make to all participants of WATWB?

PARTICIPATE!!!  LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE the love! For this to be effective we need help to share the message. One of my favorite quotes is from Margaret Mead “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” I truly believe this, I would love for the bloggers of WATWB to take up that challenge, changing the world one blog at a time. 🙂

7. Why should a blogger sign up for the WATWB?

If you are tired of negativity and want to become part of an amazing supportive blogging community please join us! Help change the face of social media!


Do you get overwhelmed by the negativity on social media? Wish you could do something about it? Here’s your chance! To Sign up: CLICK HERE. To know more: CLICK HERE.

Please join Daily (w)rite on its Facebook Page in case you’d like to be heard by this community. If you liked this post, you can have biweekly posts delivered to your inbox: click the SUBSCRIBE VIA EMAIL button.

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