Extreme Research: 10 Snappy Rules For Success

Written by Christopher Brown

So you want to learn to research well, and not waste any time. Let's do it. Here are a few NECESSARY preliminary points.

First, adopt an aggressive I-am-taking-over-this-place mindset.

2. Develop a system for executingrepparttar research process. By creating your own rules to follow systematically, you really speed things up. Don't have one? No worries. You can use mine. I happen to have "research animal" stamped on my forehead.

3. Followrepparttar 147624 rules. You can tweek them to suit your own style after a couple of runs with this method. But these make for great training wheels.

4. Before going into battle, always ready your weapons.

Do not go near a library or desk to start research unless and until everything you will need sits neatly arranged all about you for quick access. This one is your call. I use 2 or 3 pens and a pad of paper to scratch out notes and thoughts, and a pack of index cards for especially important notes. Then comerepparttar 147625 highlighters. In college, I used to workrepparttar 147626 highlighters until they overheated.

Some people like sticky notes (post-its). You can stick 'em all around you as you work. You will want a rolodex and a phone nearby in case you have to call someone you know to ask questions. For instance, if you have a specially-gifted techie friend in your inner circle, or know a professor, you may want to put him on speed dial. Think a bit about anything else you might need. Some folks study and research well to music, so get your headphones if you need them. Okay, here we haverepparttar 147627 system lined up for you.

PART #1: Begin Reconnaissance. You're going in.

A. Get an overview and "contextualize" your topic. Learn its timeline of events andrepparttar 147628 major historical factors associated with it. When did it happen? What did it do? Why do people care about it at all? Find a short article that outlinesrepparttar 147629 history of, or at least offers a timeline for, your topic. Everything has a history, and gaining a quick overview of your topic's chronology will give yourepparttar 147630 context into which all your other sources will fit.

B. Next, riderepparttar 147631 wave. This isrepparttar 147632 surfing and browsing stage. Start with what you know. Pick out words associated with your topic or subject and Google them. When you land a starting topic (you can change this as you go, no worries. Just start somewhere.), use online encyclopedias and other resources to get a "quick snapshot" ofrepparttar 147633 general views onrepparttar 147634 subject that exist out there already. Try to see your subject from as many angles as possible, as it were, "walking allrepparttar 147635 way round it," inspecting as you go. Ask questions in your head, or even out loud like I do (caution: this may scare people), and put them down on paper in a special spot. Slap a sticky note on it that reads "QUESTIONS I HAVE."

To aid and abet developing a "snapshot overview," start looking up books onrepparttar 147636 topic. Find 10 of them. Noterepparttar 147637 titles on maybe 50 books -- if you can find that many -- about your subject or topic. Noterepparttar 147638 overlap in words used inrepparttar 147639 titles about your topic. This will give you a quick idea about who or what this topic means to others who have already studied it.

Next, readrepparttar 147640 bibliographies of books. One good book can give you 5-10 great leads you might never have found otherwise. Noterepparttar 147641 titles that show up repeatedly in different bibliographies. In research geekspeak this is "bibbo," bibliographic overlap. Bibbo identifies your IRT's -- Initial Research Targets. Photocopy or print out from your IRT's:repparttar 147642 table of contents;repparttar 147643 first chapter; a middle chapter that looks interesting or helpful; andrepparttar 147644 final chapter. Then read these and highlightrepparttar 147645 Dickens out of them. This gives you a snapshot, and a working knowledge, ofrepparttar 147646 entire book extremely fast. It works too. Use your scribbled out question set as a filter for "what to look for" -- and highlight or take notes on -- when reading your IRT's. Write down any further questions that develop. These can be as simple as "Who is that guy?" Let your curiosity guide you, and letrepparttar 147647 sticky notes FLY!!

Next, read journal and magazine articles. How do you find these? Try checking your Bibbo. Or just follow any that you think might land you somewhere interesting. Playrepparttar 147648 detective. Follow your nose if you smell a good lead.

The One-Plot Wonder

Written by Michael LaRocca

THE ONE-PLOT WONDER Copyright 2004, Michael LaRocca

Back inrepparttar mid to late 1980s I was a security guard. The pay was lousy, but it gave me many hours in seclusion to write short stories and novels. However, I usually worked over 80 hours a week. No one can write that much. Well, at least not me. Thus I discoveredrepparttar 147572 joys of my local libraries.

Recently, I decided to look up an author who gave me great pleasure in those days. Most of his books are now out of print, I've learned, evenrepparttar 147573 one that became a movie.

I found that two of his were books available, so I ordered them. One I'd enjoyed before. The other was a straight thriller fromrepparttar 147574 days before he createdrepparttar 147575 "Appleton Porter" spy spoofs, re-released in 2001 in POD. I didn't know this before it arrived at my home in China.

Since I'm giving away THE plot spoiler, I won't identifyrepparttar 147576 author or title.

A man who deeply loves his wife buys her a hotel outside London. She is very happy there, at first. This is a fine suspenseful read as she notes oddities and eventually appears to be losing her mind and such. Suicides, an eventual murder. Finally, her husband pays a doctor to kill her.

Her husband arranged all this, we learn atrepparttar 147577 end, because she was dying of a horrible and incurable illness. Rather than let her sufferrepparttar 147578 indignity, he tries to give her some final days filled with wonderful memories. He never realizes that he ended her days with a living hell.

The writing was fine, aside from some stupid typos ofrepparttar 147579 sort common in unedited POD titles. He's obviously a sincere, hard-working, talented author. The plot was wholly consistent and everything "worked."

So why is it a weak book? Becauserepparttar 147580 plot I described is all there is. It's a one-plot wonder.

As an author, if you find yourself floundering, if you find your work-in-progress failing to make progress, ask yourself. Is it a one-plot wonder?

Here are some best sellers I've read overrepparttar 147581 past thirty years.

Duringrepparttar 147582 Cold War, a Soviet commander steals a top-secret submarine and tries to defect torepparttar 147583 US with it. A good and idealistic young law graduate accepts a job too good to be true, only to eventually learn he's working forrepparttar 147584 Mafia. An alcoholic author and his family become caretakers at an old Maine hotel, alone duringrepparttar 147585 winter, and he eventually goes nuts. A US President declares war on drug dealers, a "clear and present danger" to national security. A crippled author is kidnapped byrepparttar 147586 ultimate fan.

I've chosen these titles because I've readrepparttar 147587 books and seenrepparttar 147588 movies. None of my plot summaries are wrong. But with some of those novels, there are many more plots and subplots at work. These arerepparttar 147589 novels that didn't always translate well torepparttar 147590 big screen due to time constraints and/or loss of non-objective voice.

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