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Tip Tuesday #68

Guys, I just hit 1000 followers. Thank you! I can't tell you how touched I am you've stuck around when I've been such a quiet blogger the last half of this year. There will be a post on that SOON (cause you know I can't resist an end-of-year post). In the meantime, I have a fabulous tip from Deren Hansen on research! Please visit his blog as thanks.

If we literally followed the advice to, "write what you know," we wouldn't have stories about boy wizards, ruby slippers, or epic wars sweeping across a galaxy. Of course, we might argue that the person who imagined those things does, in fact, know them. Writer's face a bigger challenge when they want to write about something, like a city or a profession, with which they have no experience but others know very well.

There are many ways to learn about something unfamiliar: books, travel, interviews, etc. Between its search engine, maps, and street view, Google makes it particularly easy to pick up a passing familiarity with a topic or take a virtual tour of a place.

But the particular problem for writers is that we generally don't have time to become experts on the topic. So how do you know when you've done enough research to use the unfamiliar thing in your story without giving the people who actually know the thing reason to throw your book across the room?

I use the following guidelines:
  • Your research isn't done until you've discovered something surprising about the topic.
  • Your research isn't done until you can explain how the conventional wisdom is right and wrong.
I have a longer discussion about research techniques when writing about the unfamiliar on my blog, The Laws of Making.

Deren Hansen

10 comments:

  1. woo hoo! CONGRATS!! :D :D

    i love your blog, Casey -- it's a treasure for all aspiring writers seeking sound information about literary agents. you go above and beyond for all of us.

    happy holidays!!

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  2. You shouldn't hit people Casey. Not 1 person, let alone 1000 people.

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  3. Way to go, Casey!

    Thanks for the tip, Deren. Now if you could just offer a cure for those of us who hate having to interview people while doing research.

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  4. Congrats on the 1000! I've given you a shout-out on my blog this week. This is one of the best writing blogs around.

    Thanks for the tips, Deren.

    Lisa--I'm with you. I hate trying to get people to give me an interview.

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  5. Congrats Casey on hitting 1000 followers. That's awesome!

    Thanks Deren for the tips.

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  6. Congratulations on the followers, Casey. Well deserved, every one. ;-)

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  7. That is wonderful, Casey! Congratulations. I wish you even more success in the year to come. :)

    Lorena

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  8. Congrats on the 1000 followers. You have a nice blog here. Loved this tip here, today! :)

    Merry Christmas.

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  9. Congrats, Casey!

    btw, The Laws of Making is a cool blog!

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  10. Thank you, Bestie Taherah!

    I know, Matthew, I know! But... people hit my blog everyday. : )

    Thanks Lisa! It would be nice to have a magic charisma/bravery/anxiety pill for interviews.

    Thanks Anne! You've developed a fabulous blog yourself.

    Thank you Natalie, Kathryn, Lorena, Lynn, and Deb. You're some of my most faithful followers. Thank you! Wishing you all the best in the New Year.

    And thank you again, Deren, for the fabulous tips all year long!

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