One Writer’s Journey

April 19, 2018

Writing Nonfiction: What to do when you’re stumped

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 2:16 am
Tags: , ,

Recently someone asked me how much research I do for a book.  Really, it all depends on the topic.  My current book, which I can’t discuss in detail just yet, is STEM title.  I have 142 sources but part of chapter 2 has been giving me a hard time.  The topic is full of medical jargon and I thought I had figured it out, but my husband wasn’t sold.  He’s my first reader and the paragraph just didn’t hold together.

So today I called a friend.  He’s not a writer but he is a nurse.  He’s my go-to source for all things medical.

Diet and nutrition?  One of the women at our church writes and tests recipes for the cooking show sponsored by a local grocery store.

Economics?  My husband has a degree in finance and is a cost analyst.

Engineering?  It depends on the type.  For some things I go to an electrical engineer who was friends with my dad.  Aeronautic?  My brother-in-law.  Chemical?  My son.

If I don’t know anyone who specializes in whatever is confusing me, I start looking for museums, state parks and universities.  I’ve contacted biologists, geologists and more. I even contacted someone who was quoted in an article I used as a source.  “This is what you are quoted as saying.  What did you mean by this part right here?”  When I explain that I am a children’s writer, people are generally willing to help.

When I go to someone for help, I always have my specific questions ready, but I also discuss what I think I know with them.  That way they can tell me if I have something wrong.  Today I actually read part of a source.  “Can you explain this to me?”

You can’t write about something if you don’t understand it.  Be willing to approach someone and ask for help.  So many people will share what they know if it means they have the opportunity to educate young learners.

-SueBE

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