Our Writerly Roundup blog series features a curated collection of articles on the craft of writing and the creative life that we don't want you to miss.
How to Research and Write in a Way Your Fact-Checker Will Appreciate, Andrea Bennett & Megan Jones, Maisonneuve
If you’ve written for or are planning to write for a magazine, you should know that fact-checking is a necessary and important part of the process. You’ll be paired with a fact-checker, a person whose job it is to verify everything you’ve written. In this helpful article, Andrea Bennett and Megan Jones have compiled a list of ways you can make your fact-checker’s life (and your life) easier as you both go through the process. For example, you’ll want to make sure your sources expect a call.
Tell your interviewees that they'll be hearing from a fact-checker, and try give them as much info as possible about the process. If your piece doesn’t have a home yet, tell your interviewee that they might eventually hear from a checker, and then, when the piece finds its home, reach back out and let them know who they’ll be hearing from. Ask your source about their upcoming schedule. If you know they’ll soon be leaving on a two-week vacation, give your editor a heads up.
Bennet and Jones remind us to be ethical in how we gather our information. Consider the local laws about audio recordings, for example. Other tips include gathering multiple points of view: The victims of a crime should be interviewed, but so should the alleged perpetrator. In addition, it’s important to make life easier for your fact-checkers. It’s just good manners, not to mention good writing-karma.
Organize your research. This can come in handy particularly for longer features that take months, or maybe even longer, to report: make an excel sheet (or google doc or whatever) and note down your sources, their contact information, when and where you interviewed them, and any notes it might be helpful for your editor or checker to have. (The checker can use this information to jog a source’s memory—people occasionally wholly forget you’ve interviewed them!)
This piece is an excellent primer on what to expect the first time you’re paired with a fact-checker and a nice reminder for seasoned writers to follow a helpful protocol.
I’m just heralding a guess, here, but I suspect that, like me, many of you are a tad introverted. Writing can be a lonely endeavor, and it’s not that we want to stay locked away at our desks. It’s just that getting “out there” feels overwhelming. However, we can’t make the all-important writing world connections from the safety of our home. At least, not all of them. Fortunately, Windy Lynn Harris has some encouraging advice for we who must connect and how we should do it.
Twitter is a terrific place to start. Of all the social networking sites, Twitter has the highest number of writers and editors talking to each other each day. Follow any journal you want to know better and tweet them a hello. Then see who they’re following—you’ll find a long list writers looking to make connections, too. Facebook is another great place to find writers and editors. Most journals have their own Facebook page where you can get an insider’s view of things and meet other interested writers.
Social media will only get you so far in your conversations with your peers, though. If you want to make long-lasting connections with other writers, you need to go where the people are and say hello.
Where are those people, you ask? Harris has the answer:
Three great places to meet and mingle with other writers are Workshops, Residencies, and Conferences. Participating in these opportunities won’t always mean a financial investment, but when it does, you might be able to fund your adventure by way of an artist grant.
Harris goes on to list several opportunities in these three categories, including a helpful list of workshops and residencies. She also points out that the annual AWP conference offers myriad ways to meet, greet, and connect. So whether you’re ready to take a giant leap into the social world of connecting or maybe you’d like to start small, you’ve got options.
Avoiding Stereotypes When Writing Place (Even If That Place Is Home), Justin Hunter (@jehunter5811), LitReactor
A book’s setting often becomes a character in its own right. Justin Hunter knows that many writers choose familiar settings, often their home towns. And while you might think that it’s far easier to weave a story in a place with which you’re so intimately familiar, it turns out to be a trap in many cases. While a foreign setting requires research and description, writing about home often makes for lazy writing.
Let’s assume you’re writing something based in your hometown, a place where you might still live. Do you do the same amount of research? Do you take the same precautions you otherwise would when setting your story somewhere unfamiliar? In most cases, the answer is probably no.
Hunter doesn’t mean to imply you shouldn’t use your intimate familiarity with your home in your story. There are ways to combat laziness.
Writing about your home provides you with a certain level of access in your fiction. It allows you to take parts of you—and your home undoubtedly is a part of you—and extend them to your story. So, you should write where you know because writing where you know allows you to extend yourself beyond the limitation of writing “what you know.”
Hunter offers some suggestions for digging into your setting. For example, research. Research deeply, thoroughly. Use the newspaper, Twitter, and the local historical society. Consult local experts; show them your draft. And, of course, read.
It’s not just about reading works set in the same location as your own, it’s about understanding the way another author uses their voice to convey a place. Read with a critical eye, because as you read widely, you will come across authors who are clearly injecting their own preconceived notions and stereotypes into their works and propelling that out into the world. Understanding what not to do when you see it is just as important as understanding what to do. So just read.
Free and Paid Book Promotion Services, Reedsy (@ReedsyHQ)
This isn’t really a written piece so much as it is a curated list. If you’ve finished your novel, you know you need to promote the heck out of it, and often on a budget. Dig around in this database the Reedsy folks put together.
Discover the ideal book promotion sites for your price range. Our database is vetted with care so that you can eliminate the scammers, while our tier system is designed to give you a better picture of the sites that tend to deliver the best value for money.
You can choose your genre (all under the fiction umbrella) and search by traffic, mailing list size, or cost. This database is a good place to spend some time and discover what’s out there.
Have you read a compelling article about craft or the creative life that you think should appear in the next Writerly Roundup? Please send links to lmblogcontact (at) literarymama (dot) com—we'd love to hear your input!