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Monday, April 9, 2007

Research Whore

Right now I have 23 binders full of writing notes, and one spiral bound notebook that I take with me whenever I’m on the road.

I’m a research whore. Why do you ask?

There’s a method to research though. It should never be a haphazard compilation of every internet page you find. These are the steps I take.

• Research the researcher. You can’t trust every entry you find on the internet. Google the author’s name and see if he’s legitimate.

• Scan the page for keywords. I use the Find tool a lot. Rather than read the whole site, I’ll scan the page for specific words that are key to my query.

• Read the article. I consider myself a smart rabbit, but my eyes glaze over like white icing if the article is dry and lifeless. Gimme the dirt.

• Copy & Paste. If I find something interesting, I copy and paste to a separate Word document. In the beginning, I made the mistake of not noting where I got the original info. Nowadays, I diligently add the url so I can refer back to it if need be.

• Highlights. If it’s research I am going to use a lot, I will print it out and get out my yellow highlighter. I read through the article and highlight the things that will have direct bearing on my story.

• Storage. I don’t print as much as I used to. I’ve grown comfortable with reading things off the screen. And it’s way easier to file electronic documents than paper ones.

• Last tip and most important. Just because you found it doesn't mean you have to use it. Info dumps are the kiss of death.

The dummy gene: We had an unfortunate incident with some spilled varnish and in my frantic attempt to save the carpet I hurt myself. Then I tripped down the stairs. Is there no end to my inelegance?

I am staying horizontal today. Mel is stopping by tomorrow with some emergency chocolate cake.

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