Friday, March 19, 2010

Start to Finish (Part 3 of 10)

Gather the material.

Once you know what you want to write and you've decided on one idea for the chapter or article, gather the material. That's called doing research. Learn everything you need to make your manuscript complete and include all essential information.

If it's a personal experience, search your memory and ask others who were involved. If it's historical or factual material (even if you write fiction) read widely. Find the one or two best sources—the original sources others quote.

Always learn more about a topic than you plan to use. Years ago I wrote a scene in a novel that included a woman's visit to a field of pyrethrum, a natural pesticide. By the time I finished my research, I could have easily written 5,000 words on the topic. In the novel, I wrote one paragraph and used 93 words. That's all I needed for the story.

When we research carefully, we provide accurate information. Keep records. Footnote your writing if needed. If you use on-line sources, verify the information before you quote.

Decide the anecdotes and illustrations you want to use. Think of those word pictures as windows. It's a way for readers to see inside the structure—to understand your statements.

Work hard as a writer so you can make it easy for a reader.


  1. This is such great information Cec... thank you. Wow- researching enough to write 5,000 words but only using 93 speaks to your strong commitment to excellence. Thank you for the challenge and the lesson. Very powerful.

    By the way, I've linked to your website and encouraged people to sign up for your newsletter from my blog. I announced your She Speaks scholarships today and we are getting a great response!

    Thank you for your generosity.

    Blessings, Lysa TerKeurst- Proverbs 31 Ministries- She Speaks Conference 2010

  2. Lysa, thanks for letting people know about Cec's newsletter and for getting the word out about his blog. Cec and I are both excited about attending the She Speaks Conference this year. You do a great job. I highly recommend the conference for women who want to impact the world through their writing, blogging, speaking, church ministries, or whatever. Blessings.

  3. I love your quote, "Think of those word pictures as windows." Quite thought provoking!


  4. I love the gather part of writing. One of my favorite places is sitting on the floor of a goodwill or thrift store finding old gems that people toss out. I am sure my husband thinks I am creating my own personal library and I guess I am. I collect the books the public libraries discard.


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