Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Research And Writing What You Know

The October issue of Writer's Digest arrived this past Monday and I am in the process of devouring it, as I usually do.

In the "Reader Mail" section, a letter from Greg M. of Fredericksburg, Virginia regarding an earlier issue's article by best-selling author Jodi Picoult got my attention. Greg, taking exception to a former professor of Ms. Picoult's using the old "Write what you know" chestnut during a lecture she recounted in her article, pointed out several examples of successful authors (Clancy, Rice and Frazier) who most assuredly did not live their subject matter. Opining that successful writers are those who research their subject matter, Greg pointed out that rearranging the old saying to read "Know what you write" was a much better piece of advice.

I have always regarded the "Write what you know" adage with a tad of skepticism, feeling that it is excellent guidance for beginning writers, but limiting to those who have moved beyond those first "baby steps" of writing we all take.

There is no doubt that it is much easier to put pen to paper about subject matter you know, and it allows a higher level of confidence in what you have written. I currently write articles for two different areas of my own expertise; comic books, which I know very well, and hiking, backpacking and camping, which I know fairly well. In both subjects, I have years and years of experience to call upon when crafting an article and I make use of that experience and knowledge.

However, in spite of writing "what I know", I still do research for almost every article I write; some cursory and some extensive. At times it amounts to no more than a simple date check, while other times it may involve deeper fact-checking. Unless I'm writing something in the fantasy or make-believe realm, where rules can be somewhat bent, I always treat my writing as a journalistic endeavor where the mantra is "double-check your facts and sources". I believe even my travel blogs from Scotland and France will reflect that I make the effort to be sure when I'm citing some historical, geographical or even anecdotal information that it is factual or based on accepted wisdom or lore.

In other words, I believe a good writer is someone who will "Know what you write" even when you "Write what you know."

Monday, August 27, 2007

Getting Settled In

As you can see, I have been working on getting things arranged around here, moving in the "furniture" and moving it all around to find the best look.

Let's start with the very top. "Thanks" to my friend Denise for pointing out that once you came here to the blog from the website, there was no way to return to the website without using the browser "Back" function and that's not a good design "feature". Now the title graphic above is also a link back to the main website page, from which you can navigate anywhere on the site.

In addition to being able to get back that way, the photo of yours truly on the right will link you back to the "About Jeff" page on the website, from which you can also navigate anywhere on the site.

Moving down the right column, I have added some of my favorite links. More of those to come.

Going past the standard "Previous Posts" and "Archives" sections I've added a graphic for the upcoming BlogOrlando event, the Flickr link to my photos (a few dozen new ones are up, so take a look), my Technorati link, and my "What I'm Reading" and "What I've Read In 2007" sections.

I'm not completely done, but it's beginning to feel more like "home" around here. Keep an eye out on the right column for more additions over the next few days.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Welcome to The Word Of Jeff Blog

Greetings and welcome to the brand new Word of Jeff Blog, a part of my writing website, The Word Of Jeff.

Since most of the information you might be interested in about me is already located on my website, I won't duplicate that information here. If you don't know me (and really, why would you?) a good place to find out about me is on my About Jeff page.

Though this is not my first blog, this is my first time working with Google's Blogger so I'll be taking some time to familiarize myself with its capabilities and limitations, especially regarding what I can add over on that right hand column. Bear with me, and if you have any suggestions for content or applications over there, I'd love to hear about them.

The main purpose of this blog will be to allow me the opportunity to share with you areas of my life that deal with my writing. That might involve research I'm doing, photographs I'm taking, books I'm reading, travel I'm undertaking, people I'm meeting and maybe, just maybe, some hopes and dreams that I have for my writing.

Speaking of my writing, you can take a look at some past and current work of mine over on my Words of Jeff page.

Again, welcome to The Word of Jeff Blog and thank you for stopping in. I hope you'll return in the near future.
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