Hi, everyone. I hope that you had a safe and relaxing Independence Day celebration if you’re in the USA. Unfortunately, several people in our neighborhood were letting off illegal fireworks. That’s hard on the local wildlife, domestic pets, and veterans with PTSD. I hope that all will re-think this practice in the future.
Anyway, it’s time for another Frequently Asked Question. This one comes from the Insecure Writers’ Support Group site (welcome, visitors from the blog hop!).
It’s hard to pick just one valuable lesson from all of the years I’ve been writing. As most of you know, I have been writing for as long as I can remember. However, I also had a career as a journalist and a newspaper editor at one point in my life. So, there are different lessons to be learned from journalism, writing non-fiction, and writing fiction.
When I boil down the lessons I learned from all three types of writing, though, the thing that stands out is Do Your Homework. It doesn’t matter what your subject matter happens to be; you need to know your stuff.
If you’re not sure where to begin, take advantage of a tip I got in journalism school. Children’s books are a great place to get a grounding in the unfamiliar that will provide enough information for you to understand what questions to ask next and where to go for more in-depth research as a result. I used this tip most recently when researching Bayou Fire. I was in New Orleans, looking at types of architecture I’d never seen before. These were private homes in many cases, so I couldn’t go inside to poke around. Luckily, I found A Young Person’s Guide to New Orleans Houses in a local bookstore. It not only told me what the types of houses were, including their fancy decorative components, but also gave me floor plans so I would know what those houses were like on the interior.
It doesn’t matter what type of writing you’re doing; the homework that you do before you set pen to paper makes a difference. Your story will be all the richer for it, readers who are subject matter experts (that happens even with fictional topics) will appreciate your diligence, and you’ll feel more confident about your writing in the end.