The Devil is in the Details ~ Writing Research – it’s Important

The Devil is in the Details ~ Writing Research – it’s Important

Writing Research!

Writing research for your manuscript is nothing like you remember having to do in school, when the teacher or professor assigned you a topic you weren’t interested in, or you just picked it to be near the girl or boy you had a crush on. For your manuscript, you get to control all the aspects of the story from scratch, but be sure that your research is spot on.

writing research

Readers are smart, they know when you are trying to pull the wool over their eyes, and send them down the misdirection path.  Become an expert. Tell all your friends, family, and even strangers in the grocery store line all your useless knowledge you are picking up in the process. You want to be able to discuss with your readers that you meet all the little details, and enthrall them with the stories of how you went in that direction.

Today with the advent of the Internet and social media, it is easier to get information that is further away from your location, in the far nether-regions of the world. [If you can find it, so can your reader base!]  From the comfort of your couch, your local watering hole, coffee shop, or public library, you can find anything you are wondering about. No more waiting weeks for the InterLibrary Loan to arrive to find out it wasn’t the right one; sifting through card catalogs (what’s that?- see below), and microfiche and microfilm for hours, days, or weeks. Carrying a hundred books home to find the one line you think you need, only to return 99 of them the next day.  If you were lucky, the librarian took a liking to you, and put stuff on the side if you told her what you were looking for.

writing research

Card Catalog Image courtesy of the Smithsonian Magazine

Devil is in the Details

Be careful in how and where you sprinkle the details throughout your manuscript since you don’t want it to read like a textbook; more like “the reader can visualize what is in your head”. Keep them remembering where things were in the story, don’t overload them with every tidbit you know on the subject on one page. Call back to the earlier times in the timeline and in the story in various parts of the book. A little detail can go a long way in completing your manuscript.

Think about all the little details, yes.. sweat the small stuff. Food blogs, architectural drawings, what clothes people were wearing, even what was happening in the news at the time, can affect your ability to make sure your reader is totally enmeshed in your novel / manuscript. You want it to be seamless.

Make sure your research is in the right time period, including cars, ships, horse & buggies, trolleys … you don’t want to say the first car started driving down the street in 1850, when the first car, the Benz Patent Motor Car, didn’t hit the street until New Year’s Eve 1879.

writing research

Benz Patent Motor Car image courtesy of Daimler Benz

No question is too silly or wrong. If you have an interest in it, it is a spark that you can use to bring knowledge to someone else who has the same question.

Oh, and most important: Have fun! If you are not enjoying the process, then it will show in your writing. Let the writing research take you down various rabbit holes… be sure you have a ladder to get out though!

Come up for air – stay with us and Edward and I will discuss various ways to find what you are looking for, in the most unlikely places.



Getting Started – The Author Proposal

Getting Started – The Author Proposal

Getting Started

getting started

Getting Started – The Author Proposal

You’ve passed by that “Local Interest” section in your favorite bookstore for years. Folks you know are amazed at the knowledge you have about your town, sports team, college, or some other local topic. You’re ready to do this!

Or are you?

The Author Proposal is the process by which you decide. It’s not difficult to work with, but it is detailed. You need the answers to a number of questions about your project. This is where you make the decision to go forward. Let’s start the process with some general things you need to answer, if you want to write a history book. While we’re working within the context of writing a book for Arcadia or The History Press, the things you need to work through apply to submitting a book proposal for other imprints as well. While the details in specific proposal packages vary, the basics are common.

What do you know?

It’s one thing to think you know a particular subject. Actually knowing enough to write a book is another. Friends, neighbors, and colleagues help with this discernment. If folks really tell you, you should write a book, that’s a good start. Many history books tell their story chronogically. So, start your timeline. Turn it into an outline. Run it past your friends.

Don’t worry about credentials

You don’t need to have a doctorate to write a history book! You don’t even need a college degree. This is important – you do need to be able to write. Maybe not perfectly, but you have to get in front of a keyboard. So, if you can write a 1500-word introduction and a lot of 20 to 50-word captions, you’re up to the challenge. If you want to tell a longer story, write a thousand words. Get friends and colleagues to look it over. Be ready to accept their critiques.

Just because your writing needs work doesn’t mean you can’t write a book! Using an editor may be the route you take.

Get to work – go to our Author Proposal page to learn more about the process.

Let’s write a History book!

Let’s write a History book!

Your friends always tell you that you should write a book about your home town, where you work, your school, or perhaps your church. Among other things. Let’s make that happen!