Research How-To…and Why

[found on copyblogger.com; by  ]

“I’m going to talk about research. No, research is not very fun, and it’s never glamorous, but it matters. A lot.

If you want to be able to make compelling case for something — whether it’s in a book, on a blog, or in a multi-million dollar VC pitch — you need stories that frame your arguments, rich anecdotes to compliment tangible examples, and impressive data so you can empirically crush counter arguments.

But good research doesn’t just magically appear. Stories, anecdotes and data have to be found before you can use them.

You have to hunt them down like a shark, chasing the scent of blood across the vast ocean of information. The bad news is that this is an unenviable task … but the good news is that it’s not impossible.

It’s not even that hard … once you learn what you’re doing — and I’m going to teach you those skills.

By the time I was 21, my research had been used by #1 New York Times Bestselling authors like Robert Greene, Tim Ferriss, and Tucker Max. Was I a slave to study? Did I have to become a library hermit to accomplish this? No, I did it all in my spare time–on the side, with just a few hours of work a week.

Here’s how I did it …

Step 1: Prepare long before gameday [sic]

…This is the mark you must aim for as a researcher, to not only have enough material — and to know where the rest of what you haven’t read will be located — on hand to do your work….

Step 2: Learn to search (Google) like a pro

…How do you find a needle in haystack? Get rid of the extra hay….

Step 3: Go down the rabbit hole (embrace serendipity)

…One of my rules as a reader is to read one book mentioned in or cited in every book that I read. It not only solves the problem of ‘what to read next’ but it sends you on a journey down the rabbit hole….

Step 4: When in doubt, turn to the classics

…The Classics are “classic” for a reason. They’ve survived the test of time….

Step 5: Keep a commonplace book

…a book of quotes, sentences, metaphors and  miscellany that he could use at a moment’s notice….”

To read the entire article from , click here.

[found on http://www.copyblogger.com/content-marketing-research/]
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Children’s Books—Authors Speak

[found on parents.com; by Jaclyn A. Zinn]

“If you ask a hundred different authors how they got published, you’ll get a hundred different stories,” says Pam Mu?oz Ryan, author of Mice and Beans, one of Child’s 50 Best Books of 2001. But aspiring writers — and fans — can learn and be inspired by the tales of those who’ve flourished in the field….

“The hardest thing to learn is how to communicate with your audience,” says Hoeye. “You can’t lose your voice. You must have a distinct sense of who you are and who you’re trying to talk to.” One way he honed his skills was by writing letters. “My first book, Time Stops for No Mouse, started as a series of letters to my wife who was traveling in Africa,” says Hoeye. “I didn’t know I was writing a book. It was just a way of entertaining her, but it kept growing and growing. To write a book straight through can be bewildering and intimidating.”

“Ideas come to me from everywhere-my own life, sometimes folktales,” says dePaola. “Strega Nonacame to me out of the blue, but I often get ideas from kids. The Quicksand Book is a good example of that. Children will come up to me and say, `Why don’t you write a story about….'”

“Rejection can be devastating,” says Janet Stevens, author of And the Dish Ran Away with the Spoon, a Child Best Book of 2001. “You can get your heart broken. The main thing to realize is that there are so many different editors with different tastes. You have to remove yourself from it emotionally and just keep trying. You don’t have to be the best author and win all the awards; you just have to appeal to kids — that’s what’s most important.”

To read more from the authors of children’s books on parents.com, click here.

[found on http://www.parents.com/fun/entertainment/books/secrets-of-successful-childrens-book-authors/]

Get Your Mind Out of Your Way

[found on writetodone.com; by Ollin Morales of Courage 2 Create]

“What if I told you that the biggest threat to your writing is not your lack of passion, your lack of creativity, or your lack of skill?

What if I told you that the biggest threat to your writing is… your mind?

That’s right. Your mind is the biggest obstacle standing between you and all the work you are trying to accomplish.

Our mind is often the one that needs the most convincing that our writing is worthwhile. This is because our mind is hard-wired to protect us from any possible danger.  You see, in order to protect us, our mind initially perceives anything it encounters as a threat—including your writing.

If this sounds strange, and kind of primitive, as if your mind is trying to protect you from a tiger hiding behind a tree in a jungle—then you’re absolutely right.

Your mind is still pretty primordial. So, your job as a writer is to hack into this primordial, hunter-gatherer mind, and update its software so that your mind works for you.

Here are just 4 ways to hack your mind so that you can become infinitely more creative:

1. Bypass Your Mind

…Get rid of all the thinking. Wipe your mind clean. Take a deep breath, and just go for it….

2.  Trick Your Mind

…promise your mind that you will continue to worry about paying your bills AFTER you write a brief outline of that freelance article you’re working on….

3. Lower Your Mind’s Expectations

…If your mind sees that you’re making a big bet, then, it will immediately advise you against it—it may even try to thwart you from accomplishing the monumental task you’ve set up for yourself….

So, don’t make that big bet. Make a small one, instead.

4. Recalibrate Your Mind

…the return on your initial investment does not appear until much much later. This is something your mind has trouble understanding, and it’s your job to help your mind understand it….hack into your mind so that your mind works for you.”

To read the entire article from Ollin Morales at writetodone.com, click here.

[found on http://writetodone.com/4-ways-to-hack-into-your-mind-and-become-infinitely-more-creative/]

Your Plot Needs Planning

[found on fictionfactor.com; by Lee Masterson]

Effectively Outlining Your Plot

“Have you ever had an idea for a novel, and then just sat down and began writing without knowing exactly where the story was going?

It happens to everyone at some point, but most people begin to realize that the events in your plotline get confused, or forgotten in the the [sic] thrill of writing an exciting scene. There are those who continue to write on, regardless, fixing any discrepancies as they work, or (worse!) those who do not check that events are properly tied in place to bring their stories to a satisfying conclusion.

And then there are those writers who believe that creating a plot-outline is tantamount to “destroying the natural creative process”. The belief is simple; by writing it out in rough form, you’ve already told the story, so the creative side of you will not want to write it again.

Whichever type of writer you are, creating a simple, inelegant outline to follow s not the same thing as already writing the story, and it could save you an enormous amount of time and rewriting later.

The purpose of an outline in this case is to be certain that your storyline is not straying too far from the original idea. It is also a useful tool if you need to determine if your idea is big enough to be developed into a novel-length work, and not left as a short story or novella.

Your outline should be a simple reminder that, no matter how many events or characters or situations arise, your main theme will never get lost in the jumble of scenes.

Of course, this brings us to the problem to what was discussed above. There are writers who have a tendency to over-plot, thus really killing any spontaneity as far as the writing process goes. The biggest difficulty here is forcing your characters to go through motions that may not fit into their personality make-up simply to fit into your pre-existing, overly planned plotline.

So how do you strike a fair balance between aimless writing and over-plotting? There are several ways to accomplish this….”

To read the complete article from Lee Masterson, click here.

[found on http://www.fictionfactor.com/articles/outlining.html]

Poems, Lyric Thyself

[found on songlyricist.com; by Carla Starrett]

“Poets in the modern world do not enjoy the elevated social status they did a century or two ago.

Wordsworth, Byron, Keats and Shelley were the rock stars of their time. Their poetic skills earned them adulation, celebrity and even the occasional touch of wealth.

These days, poems and poetry are sadly relegated to sparsely attended coffeehouse readings or the obscure pages of small literary magazines.

On the other side of the proverbial coin, there are wonderful opportunities in today’s music industry for talented poets – at least those who successfully adapt their writing style to song lyric writing.

Songs are the popular lyrical medium of our time. That’s where status and the bigmoney is for today’s poets.

Adapting Poems Into Song Lyrics

There are many examples of poets who have turned their personal poetry into successful song lyrics.

Most everyone’s heard of lyricist Bernie Taupin, Elton John’s famous co-writer. One of these talented fellows without the other may have labored in the shadows of obscurity.

Yet, by combining their specialized talents, they were able to write hundreds of great songs, and extrmely [sic] popular songs. In the process, they become millionaires!

The lesson is clear: ambitious 21st Century poets who wish to connect with the popular culture and mass audiences will want to learn how to write lyrics.

Which leads to this question: Can poets successfully turn their talents to writing song lyrics?

Answer: For talented poets willing to adapt their writing styles to the craft of lyric writing, the answer is definitely yes!”

To learn more from Carla Starrett on how to adapt your poems into song lyrics, click here.

[found on http://www.songlyricist.com/lyricorpoem.htm]

Not All Is Possessive

[found on grammarphobia.com; by The Grammarphobia Blog]

 Nouns: Possessive vs Genitive

“Normally, nouns used with numbers to form adjectival phrases are singular, as in “two-inch rain,” “three-year-old boy,” “two-dollar word,” “eight-volume biography,” and “four-star restaurant.”

However, where a plural noun is used by tradition to form such a phrase, it’s generally followed by an apostrophe, as in “the Thirty Years’ War” and “the Hundred Years’ War.”

The plural followed by an apostrophe is also used in phrases like “ten dollars’ worth” or “five years’ experience” or “two days’ time.”

Apostrophe constructions like these aren’t “possessive” in the sense of ownership; strictly speaking, they’re genitive.”

To learn more from grammarphobia.com, click here.

[found on http://www.grammarphobia.com/blog/2010/08/sui-genitive.html]

Are You A Writer? Or Are You A Writer?

[found on businessbuildingbooks.com; by  Lynne Klippel]

“Personally, I love hobbies. In my former profession as an Occupational Therapist, I taught people how important it was to have hobbies that bring them joy, reduce stress, and add meaning to life.

If you write simply for the pleasure of creating art with your words, I salute you. Writing is a hobby that you can enjoy for the rest of your life.

However, if you want to write a book and use it to help others while making an income, you are an entrepreneurial author. As an entrepreneurial author, you need more information and support than the hobbyist writer.

You need a solid plan to write, market, and use your book to build your business. In short, you need a way to create a great book and a great income so that the time and effort you invest in your book pays off.”

To read more from Lynne Klippel on writing helps, click HERE.

[found on http://businessbuildingbooks.com/your-book-just-hobby]

How To Manage Your Edits

“As an editor, I have heard horror stories about authors who didn’t know how to process the edits they received back from their editors. Instead of asking what to do with the Word document, [caution, you’re going to scream] some of the authors printed the full manuscript, compared item by item, then RETYPED the entire manuscript.

Don’t let this be you.

Firstly, your editor is on your TEAM. An editor wants you to succeed. And even though you may feel like we are all jackals, we don’t really bite. Ask us questions—especially when you feel overwhelmed or uncertain.”

— Billi Joy Carson / Senior Editor, Editing Addict

  EDITOR Sends Completed File Back to AUTHOR:

THE AUTHOR’S JOB:

1. READ through document

2. CHOOSE FROM (to accept and/or reject changes)

a. Accept All Changes in Document

b. Accept and Move to Next

c. Reject All Changes in Document

d. Reject and Move to Next

3. SHORTCUT for authors

a. Save TWO* versions of the file you received from your editor.

i. File A [edits accepted]

1. In Word Doc, under REVIEW tab [File A]

2. Select Accept All Changes in Document [File A]

ii. File B [edits visible]

1. Leave the file the way you received from the editor

b. Read through File A side-by-side with File B

i. If you find an edit you don’t want

1. In File B

a. Under REVIEW tab [File B]

b. Select Reject and Move to Next [File B]

ii. When you are finished reading File A, and correcting File B,

1. In File B

a. Under REVIEW tab [File B]

b. Select Accept All Changes in Document [File B]

c. File B is now fully edited, and author approved

*At Editing Addict, I do this beforehand for my authors, however, not all editors have the [File A & File B] policy, and expect the author to do it on their end. How To Manage Your Edits

How to Accept and/or Reject Tracked Changes in a Word Document: YouTube Video

Still have questions? Leave a comment below, or send  a message to the editor: billijoycarson@editingaddict.com. Teamwork brings success!

Keep Your Story Fresh, Or Be Lost

[found on matthewdunnbooks.com; by Matthew Dunn]

“Make Sure Your Story is Fresh in 5 Years Time.

If you choose to set your story at a point in history, then your book won’t age for obvious reasons. But, most thriller readers like their stories to be contemporary which on the one hand is great for writers because it doesn’t mean we have to do painful extra research on e.g. what clothes a man would have worn in 1934.

On the other hand, there are pitfalls. Your book can take over a year to be written and edited, many years to get an agent and a publishing deal, and another year or two to become a finished published novel. Want to write a spy novel featuring the rogue state of Iran? If so, you need to be confident that Iran is still a rogue state in at least 5 years’ time.

The Western world applauded the collapse of communism but I guarantee you there were a large number of spy writers who tore up their draft manuscripts in disgust when the USSR fragmented, because their stories were supposed to be contemporary yet featured the Cold War and the Soviet Union.”

For more tips on writing from Matthew Dunn, click here.

[found on http://www.matthewdunnbooks.com/writing-a-thriller-novel-10-tips]