This Wordpress blog site is mainly to re-blog other peoples’ posts and link to my website http://suzanne-newnham.com
This Wordpress blog site is mainly to re-blog other peoples’ posts and link to my website http://suzanne-newnham.com
Historical Research for Writers by Sheree Crawford
Researching is, believe it or not, a skill that not everyone has. If you do have it you should definitely put it on your C.V.; good research is often the thing you do not see, but the want of it is blindingly obvious, especially when you write historic fiction, or you’re writing about cultures and people you don’t know anything about.
Research isn’t about consuming every piece of information you can find on your topic; it’s about knowing what is and isn’t important. You can learn this by taking a degree of some sort (History in particular will smack you in the face with research skill requirements before you’ve even finished the first year… whoo-boy that was a learning curve, I can tell you), or you can piggyback my History degree; go on, I don’t mind. I’ll share some of the pearls I’ve discovered while cracking open every proverbial shellfish on that metaphorical beach.
Know Your Books
We’re writers, ok, I get it. I Get It. You want to read a super old, musty book and feel the thick, alien paper, and smell the centuries on it…
But these books are WILDLY out-dated. Hugely so, even when they’re less than one hundred years old in some cases. For example, The Problem of the Picts was published in 1955, but today is considered so obsolete as to be of use ONLY to historians and archaeologists, and only then as a contrasting study for those wishing to write about how far we’ve come. The answer? A hell of a lot; in the 67 years since this collection of essays on archaeological practic, Pictish culture, language, architecture, and art was published our conception of the Picts has evolved beyond all recognition.
The lesson here is that old books have their place; they can show you what the author at the time, what society at the time, thought to be the case. If a history text is older than 100 or 150 years old you may start to notice that the style of writing is less rigid, and by the time you’re reading something 200 years old or over referencing of sources becomes a sideline (or nonexistent) activity. A historian would treat these as unreliable materials; contemporary works have value because of their proximity to the time period, modern works are valued because they apply all the available techniques.
Everything else varies.
As an author you don’t need to know all this, per se, but it helps to understand that you should be sticking to more modern texts, or that you can return to the seminal primary sources.
Technology is Your Friend
If you have an encyclopedia which covers the relevant time period throw it out the window… haha, no, don’t do that; you’ll kill someone. But seriously, don’t trust encyclopedia; they age poorly. If you want to do surface skim research just use the internet. In fact, for much of the research that authors do online sources are the best sources;
Even if you need or want specialised, academic sources you can often find them through Google Scholar. Remember that book, The Problem of the Picts? When writing an essay discussing our development since it’s publication I made more use of an article by Steven Driscoll found on Google Scholar than I did of many books from the University library. The internet may be full of misinformation, but if you look in the right places you can find exactly what you need quickly and easily. Consider;
When researching you should keep notes as you go; make sure you keep a note of which book the information came from and which page you found it on (this will be a God-send if you have to double check the information). When keeping notes most people make the mistake of writing down every single fact that they come across. This is time consuming and unhelpful.
When taking notes you need to keep two things in mind: your question/topic, and what kind of information will be relevant to it.
You should think about;
Keep your notes concise and in bullet points for quick reference; you could consider colour coding, too, for ease.
There are some things that academic texts cannot give you a feel for, or which will be better illustrated by alternative sources. Speech patterns, for example, or architecture can be better grasped out with the local university or college library. You can consider the following options to supplement your more academic resources;
How Much is Too Much?
This is a hard question to answer as researching for a novel is wildly different from researching for an essay; you will pass on much less to the reader when writing a novel than when writing an essay.
What they have in common, however, is that it’s important for you to know and be familiar with the largest part of the issue. In both case you would need to know about WWII, for example, the start and end dates for all major parties involved, the key battles, the key figures, and the kinds of equipment available to people then. Unlike when writing an academic essay, however, writers producing a novel might need to know how the rationing system worked on a day to day basis, what foods were most commonly found and which were very rare, what the average worker earned, and the common fashions of the day.
As a basic benchmark, however, you consider perhaps reading a basic, high-school level educational text, a novel written in the same period, and perhaps watch any available documentaries which cover the period in question. After this point you can rely on on the spot research for minor details. If research is getting in the way of actually writing then you should definitely call a halt and move on; you can always go back to fill in gaps in your knowledge later.
Historical research is not only a good tool for writers, but is a skill that can carried across to other jobs; it requires the ability to prioritise information, recognise reliable sources, and deploy facts in effective ways. This is a skill well worth developing.
Guest post contributed by Sheree Crawford. Sheree is a UK based content writer and ghostwriter and often writes about the art of writing.
Source: #amwritng: Power Punctuation
A little power is a dangerous thing, and certain punctuation has power.
These are all wonderful, fun things to play with, but making too free with the power punctuation makes the narrative too breathless, or in the case of ellipses, too slow. When prose is well written, it conveys the excitement of the moment without force. A good author doesn’t resort to creating excitement with the overuse of exclamation points as this makes the narrative breathless. It tells the reader what to think, rather than showing them a scene that is exciting.
When I am laying down the first draft, I am just as guilty of filling the manuscript with exclamations, em dashes, and ellipses. I am in a rush to get the ideas down on paper, so in some places, this is a subconscious shorthand for the second draft, which is where I take those telling scenes and show them.
I do a global search for exclamation points, ellipses, and em dashes. At each one, I examine the scene. Nine times out of ten, I change the power punctuation to a period, or I find the em dash or ellipsis was not needed.
Exclamation points, em dashes, and ellipses are like speech tags. They are necessary, but simplicity is the key to making them unobtrusive. Generally, dialogue worded powerfully, along with the way you visualize and then show the attitude of the characters and their situation will serve to convey the emotions.
When it’s done right, you will only need one or two morsels of power punctuation, and the punctuation you use won’t be a needle in the eye of the reader. The common, garden-variety period or comma will usually serve the situation well, and won’t throw the reader out of the book.
All punctuation has its place and should be used appropriately. Exclamation points, em dashes, and ellipses should be used, but only at important points. For the most part, the way you have set the scene combined with the dialogue itself will convey the tension without your having to sprinkle the narrative with power punctuation.
I suggest you do a global search and change most of them to a period.
But what about !? I only recently learned that these are called “interrobangs.” Comic books frequently employ interrobangs, generally because the authors are limited on space for narrative and use creative punctuation as a shorthand. They do this as a way of telling the story.
It’s your narrative, so of course, you will do as you see fit. However, the exclamation point before a question mark is not accepted punctuation in literature intended for adults, so don’t be surprised if you receive negative feedback in reviews. Interrobangs are a writing habit professional writers will avoid if they want to be taken seriously.
Peppering the narrative with exclamation points and interrobangs is a form of telling the reader “this is exciting”, as opposed to showing the excitement. We want to immerse the reader, not blow them out of the manuscript. A great resource for ideas on how to convey strong emotions without telling the reader what the character is feeling is The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi.
All sentences should have only one punctuation mark to signify the end. “Ahah!” you say. “What about the ellipsis?” When the ellipsis falls at the end of the sentence, it should be three dots followed by the required punctuation.
This is because the ellipsis or em dash at the end of a sentence symbolize unspoken words, trailing off. They are not considered punctuation.
This is what the Chicago Manual of Style says:
Use an ellipsis for any omitted word, phrase, line, or paragraph from within a quoted passage. There are two commonly used methods of using ellipsis: one uses three dots for any omission, while the second makes a distinction between omissions within a sentence (using three dots: . . .) and omissions between sentences (using a period and a space followed by three dots: . …). An ellipsis at the end of a sentence with no sentence following should be followed by a period (for a total of four dots).
Once again, I emphasize that we use the Chicago Manual of Style if we are writing fiction and intend to publish it. The Chicago Manual of Style is written specifically for writers, editors, and publishers and is the publishing industry standard. All the editors at the major publishing houses own and refer to this book when they have questions.
What is the best style guide for writing technical user manuals?
Are you writing for a newspaper? AP style was developed for expediency in the newspaper industry and is not suitable for novels or for business correspondence, no matter how strenuously journalism majors try to push it forward. If you are using AP style, you are writing for the newspaper, not for literature. These are two widely different mediums with radically different requirements.
For business correspondence, you want to use the Gregg Reference Manual.
If you develop a passion for words and ways in which we bend them, as I have done, you could soon find your bookshelf bowing under the weight of your reference books. Writing is not a one-size-fits-all kind of occupation. There is no one style guide that will fit every purpose. Each essay and book may be meant for a different reader, and each should be written with the style that meets the expectations of the intended readers.
However, some things are universal:
Ellipses symbolize omitted words and are not punctuation, so when the conversation trails off, you must add an ending punctuation. My God, I thought. What…?
Em dashes can either set off phrases—like this—or if used at the end of a sentence an em dash can indicate cut off words.
Consider the following quote from A Dog’s Tale by Mark Twain. In this case, you do not add punctuation:
It did seem to me that life was just too lovely to—
It is your task to write the narrative so that it shows the character’s emotions. Their eyes will widen, or their mouth will drop open, or they will stop and stare. When it comes to punctuation, do you tell, or do you show? You make the decision, but I see the interrobang and the overuse of the exclamation point as if they were too much seasoning, strong flavors that can ruin the the taste of the narrative.
The Chicago Manual of Style (16th ed.), page 639 sections 13.51 – 13.55 The Chicago Manual of Style 16th edition text © 2010 by The University of Chicago.
The Chicago Manual of Style (16th ed.), page 334 Section 6.84 Em dashes to Indicate Sudden Breaks, The Chicago Manual of Style 16th edition text © 2010 by The University of Chicago.
A Dog’s Tale, by Mark Twain. © 1904 Harper & Brothers, via Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=A_Dog%27s_Tale&oldid=769178379 (accessed May 16, 2017).
I’m eligible to enter the 2017 International Psychics Directory PEOPLE’s CHOICE AWARD.
Please vote for me.
Details in http://newagesupastore.com/dir/vote2017/vote2017.html
For a free copy of the 2017 International Psychics Directory.
My article Ego is not a dirty word, or is it? http://www.psychicdirectory.com.au/PD2017Digital.pdf (pg47)
This book is something that was put together over the past year as I navigated my way through the world of independent publishing. A lot of this voyage was guided by trial and error. I spent a great deal of time and a minimal amount of money determining what works and what doesn’t. Have I mastered everything involved in the independent publishing platform? Not at all. I still have a lot to learn.
I put together this book to help others who are either beginners or seasoned in the area of independent publishing. I have compiled my own experiences and ask that you use this book as a set of guidelines gathered from one person’s experience. I welcome a productive discussion around the topics in this book and view it as a dynamic tool that I will adjust as I learn more on my own and from you as…
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by Toni Bernhard
posted Jun 15, 2016 on Psychology Today & kevinmd.com April 5, 2017
Pacing refers to spacing out your activities during the day so that you’re able to stay within the limits of what your body can handle without exacerbating your symptoms. Another way to think of it is that pacing is a way to keep you inside your “energy envelope” — the envelope that contains your energy stores for any given day.
First, an admission: Even though pacing may be the single best “treatment” for me, I have a love-hate relationship with it. On the one hand, I love pacing because it keeps my symptoms from flaring. On the other hand, I hate pacing because it keeps me from doing everything I want to do.
To complicate matters, I’m much better at pacing when I’m at my best, as opposed to when I’m at my worst. This means that when I’m feeling intensely sick or in pain, I tend to ignore pacing and overdo things which, of course, only exacerbates my symptoms. Why in the world would I do this? Because doing things distracts me from my symptoms. In other words, activity keeps me from tuning in to how my body feels. Of course, this always backfires. The time comes when my body imposes itself on the situation and tells me in no uncertain terms: “That is enough for now.” Then, when I do give in and lie down to rest, I have to deal with feeling worse due to all that extra activity. When will I learn? …
For more on this article and the list of strategies go to: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/turning-straw-gold/201606/pacing-the-chronically-ill-person-s-best-friend or
About the author: Toni Bernhard was a law professor at the University of California—Davis. She is the author of How to Be Sick: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide for the Chronically Ill and their Caregivers, How to Wake Up: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide to Navigating Joy and Sorrow, and How to Live Well with Chronic Pain and Illness: A Mindful Guide. She can be found online at her self-titled site, Toni Bernhard.
An Englishman went on safari in Zambia, taking his faithful corgi along for company. One day the corgi decided to go do some exploring on her own.
As she was wandering around, she saw a leopard approaching with the obvious intention of having her for lunch. Just in time, she noticed some bones on the ground …
Source: It’s a dog’s life