The Thirty Minute Blogger

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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Writing Success: Check the Sources



Along with never stopping writing to hone the craft, you also have to develop a system of research that leads to trust. You have to provide strong, reliable source material. Whether you are writing fact or fiction, you have to get the details straight.

Today it is all too easy to do an online search and grab the first material your eyes fall upon on your topic. That would be a deadly mistake. You are quite likely to send along to readers erroneous material, old wives tales, conspiracy theories, and dates that are way off. You need sources you can rely on. Online check the end of the address. Look for organizations ending in the following: .org (non-profits), .edu (education), .mus (museums), .gov (governments). Those are the sites safest to reference (and do give them all proper credit of course, no plagiarism!). But you'll want to back that up with old fashioned footwork, checking into libraries, historical societies, and museums for primary source documents, physical books, newspaper archives, microfiche collections, and all the rest. One of the real great joys, if you get the chance, is to spend a day researching in the Library of Congress. University libraries are wonderful on a smaller scale as you will find lots of people interested in helping you out. If you can find sources to interview on the topic, all the better. Just make sure to cross-reference their information with known facts.

Books give you an added value over internet sources. Books had to pass through a publishing house and en editor. There at least the material had to stand up against some sort of scrutiny before it reached you.

Finally, you need to be very picky on your sources. If one source provides a detail you can find nowhere else and cannot confirm, you probably should play it conservative and set that piece of information aside or tuck it into a footnote and have it ascribed to that author. Never assume a "scoop" is just that. The reason for all the careful research is that you need your readers to trust you if you want your book to succeed (or your article, or post, etc.). That trust is lost when readers discover that your facts are in error. Remember, writer, you are truly human ... but your readers expect a higher level of diligence from you than from other mortals.

Good luck!

For the first post in the "Writing Success" series, see: http://jsbrookspresents.blogspot.com/2014/06/writing-success-never-stop.html

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