R … is for Resources

R[1] is for resources, which for me includes reference and reading. I’ve added the other two words because they are interconnected, and play their part in today’s topic.

What do I mean by resources?

This covers anything that assists us as writers. In some ways it’s unfortunate that in these times of the information super highway, when many people think of resources; it means the Internet. Rather than reach for one of those neat, tightly-packaged items – a book, a lot of folk are content to ask Google or some other search engine.

Yes, it takes a few keystrokes and virtually any subject can be traced. Likewise, when this is done, there are several sources. Without doubt, one of the main sources is Wikipedia, so we’ll take that as our example to prove a point.

What do we find in every Wikipedia entry?

In it’s simplest form, we find a disclaimer. The fact that the statement mentions words like ‘verification’ and ‘reliable resources’ doesn’t indicate that everything in the entry has them – it indicates something else. The information is verified up to a point, which means if you quoted it, you are putting a lot of trust in those who compiled it. Use it by all means, but cross-reference your information with at least one other source.

What do we find in an established reference book?

Apart from being there, (even when there is no electricity), we find the names of the author, or authors. Not far inside, we will find out what qualifies them to suggest they know anything about the topic. We will also see whether it is written as a credible reference, or it is simply an opinion piece in book format. Remember also, that these handy packs of organised paper are great for filling up a shelf beside your desk.

For me, the Internet sites serve to remind me, or point me in the right direction, or to give me a basic understanding. A book on the other hand normally carries with it a certifiable qualification alongside the author’s name, and that is important if I’m intending to use the information elsewhere.

Why is reading a resource?

The immediate answer to this is, that if we are writing creatively, then we should read. There are several reasons for this, and not least because the celebrated author Stephen King recommends it in his outstanding book, ‘On Writing’. Before I forget, if you haven’t got a copy – get one!

Reading helps to expose us to a variety of genre, authors, and styles. In my own case for example, in the past couple of months I’ve read: thriller, fantasy, romance, adventure, erotica and historical. I have many books on my shelves that have yet to be read, but I also have reference books that have paid for themselves many times over.

We can learn snippets of information by reading, even if it’s a short story, or somebody else’s blog or website. Okay, perhaps we will find information and want to chase up more sources to clarify it, but it might first have been found reading a competition entry. As I’ve tried to do throughout this A to Z Challenge, I’ve given examples, and this post has what might be considered a peculiar example.

A few months ago, I wanted to point out some of the basics of creative writing, so I wrote a short story to do it. The story is, ‘An Aspiring Writer’, and although I’m not an authority on the subject, the comments I’ve had, indicate that there are some credible points made. It was fun to write, but I did give it plenty of thought.

On my blog now is a new and expanding menu for the use of any visitor which contains resources for writers. If you have any suggestions, they are welcome, and will be accredited if used. Apart from that particular menu, my intention is to create a menu to feature all my ‘A to Z’ posts.

Once again, I thank you for reading and I’ll be back tomorrow with ‘S’.

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13 comments on “R … is for Resources

  1. Apart from the likely greater validity of information from an actual book, we’re more likely to remember and really understand something from a book – not just because of better presentation or the suchlike, but because of the effort involved; by actually looking something up in a book, first you will have had to come by the reference to that book, then go to the trouble of obtaining it. All these (physical) things actually create more memory/mental connections to what you learn than the almost effortless and instant gratification of ‘googling’ something (levels of processing for all the psychologists out there), but as you sort of suggest, if you can combine the two, strike some sort of balance so to speak, then yes, the internet can be a great resource, just not the ‘only’ one..

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    • Absolutely right Paul. One stage further is to write out the important details. Writing out dates and suchlike with a brief word or two was how I used to prepare for exams in my Army days. Generally writing it out was sufficient, but if it was a list, I would write it several times. It all comes down to reading and writing. lol

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  2. I heard (or read) somewhere once that a writer should ‘read like a butterfly, write like a bee’! Corny, I know, but actually brilliant advice. Every book I read, I find myself analysing how the author has produced a particular effect; it’s quite illuminating and, on many occasions, has made me look at my own writing with fresh eyes.

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    • That is exactly the sort of thing I was getting at Julia. Of course I don’t want to be spoon-feeding you guys with stuff you might already know and use. I’ve learned so much about the power of cutting out descriptions and dialogue when it helps to keep the pace going.

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    • Thank you for the visit and very kind comment. Now let’s have less of the ‘imaginary’ and get on with that book girl!

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  3. In my freelance writing work, I often use Wikipedia as a jumping-off point. Sometimes the links in the Wikipedia article itself can provide verification, but they’re often very old. Often you can simply get the information and verify it elsewhere. I think the problem with Wikipedia is that anyone can add information.

    Stephanie
    http://stephie5741.blogspot.com

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    • Hi Stephanie. Yes, just as Paul and Julia have done, you’ve extended the ideas behind this post. You’ve touched on one of my pet hates about sites like Wikipedia – the freedom for somebody to ‘join in’ with what they believe is factual information. It does though, as you say, work well as a jumping-off point.
      It’s useful too if you’re brainstorming an idea.

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  4. I spent almost two decades researching NOT full time. In part because life had surprises and in part because the archives and files I needed/wanted were not that easy to open. Some of my resources were well known and respected history books, but whenever possible even from those I looked for the resource of their information and went there. Even when the writing has nothing to do with History I believe that you are very spot on in your post. Wikipedia can be a great starting point, or for fun posts like these for A-Z with link , perfectly acceptable, it is fun to contact and help them when there are discrepancies, and it is at least a resource. GREAT post I love this about #AtoZchallenge finding fantastic new blogs !
    ☮Peace ☮ ღ ONE ℒℴνℯ ღ ☼ Light ☼
    visiting from
    http://4covert2overt.blogspot.com/

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    • Maria, thank you for the visit, your observations and kind comments. I agree, and I’ve found on this first attempt at the A to Z Challenge there are some very interesting blogs out there.
      I’ll be over to check out your site later today.

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    • Yes, as mentioned in other comments here, there is an argument for using the site as a Launchpad. I’d go along with that too.

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  5. I don’t use Wikipedia; I don’t trust the site. But I have googled many sites looking for information I needed to write knowledgeably on a given subject. Once I needed to know when those little boxes of matches came into use. I found that information on the web, saving myself a trip to my local library for that snippet of information. Of course, I went to several sites to verify the information was correct.
    I love the internet, I love having all that information at my fingertips. But still, I have shelves of books by my writing desk, mostly reference, that have been well used. If I need a lot of information on a particular subject, I buy a real book, and after it has served its purpose, it will move down the line in order of the ones I turn to time and again; but with me, it has found a permanent home.
    And, Tom, I have read Stephen King’s “On Writing”–more than once. I think he is a brilliant writer. I hope it doesn’t take his death for him to be taken seriously. But in the meantime, he has all those millions of “constant readers”–not to mention the millions of dollars–that authenticates his genius.

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