Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Relax with Researching

Finding info on the internet, in books, and even TV and movies are ways in which I research. Since part of my current project takes place during the Civil War, I find myself searching the web a lot. Sometimes I loose myself in the vortex of information; reading things that may not pertain totally, but are interesting nonetheless until I find and hour or more has gone by.

I've been thinking of taking an afternoon, lounging in sweats, eating snacks and renting current movies set during the Civil War. It would help me imagine what they wore, how they talked, etc. and it might inspire me. If nothing else, it sounds like a good excuse to relax. I also plan on visiting Virginia again hopefully soon, a plethora of information is there and writing while actually being there could help me get into the characters.

I also research on the art of writing. I wish I could devote more time right now to this because I know I have a lot to learn. I have some books I refer to often. One that I'm reading right now and would recommend is "Keys to Great Writing" by Stephen Wilbers. Websites like and are also helpful for researching writing techniques. My favorite way to research writing is reading books in the genre I'd like to become proficient in. The only drawback I have though is when the book is good I find myself engaged in the plot and forget to concentrate on things the author has done well, and things I should avoid. In general when it comes to any research I have to find good ways to help my brain retain all of this info, so when it comes time to use it, I'll remember it. I guess good organization should be considered when researching.


  1. Aside from what I mentioned privately to you about the Library of Congress, Manassas National Battlefield also has a neat, albeit small library that I believe you can make an appointment to use. Did you happen to see Cold Mountain several years back? Good book and the movie wasn't bad either.

  2. I agree--sometimes I mean to just look up one thing, but that one thing leads to another and another and then I have to choose what is actually relevant or helpful, plus find a way to organize it.

  3. Ken Burns- The Civil War. You will never have to research again or you could just watch Patrick Swayze in North and South for all your needs. Haha. Great Post.

  4. Harold Underdown's "The Completes Idiot's Guideline to Publishing Childrens Books" is a great resource. Along with his website The Purple Crayon