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OTHER ITA SITES:
Before Painting Words
No matter what kind of writing you consider your forte you might want to consider the use of a ‘learning log’.
The process of writing generally requires research. Unless you are recounting personal events in a first person non-fiction narrative the use of research tools is a highly valued counterpart to effective writing.
A learning log is simply a journal with notes that are specific to the subject matter you are seeking to write.
It is possible to write without a learning log, however the only two reasons I can think of for refusing to use one is if you are a leading expert on the subject or you conduct research continuously while you write.
In the second scenario it remains a difficult proposition simply because the lack of pre-completed research slows down the flow and continuity of the piece. Generally this circumstance requires the writer to make meaningful adjustments to the text once the first draft is complete.
As the storyline develops in your mind you will find that you begin to have an intuitive sense of what research is most beneficial to your piece. This makes the learning log even more important.
Having written numerous scripts for the stage I have used a learning log on several occasions to capture the sense of the time period involved as well as the mannerisms, clothing choices, dialects and historical points of reference. Once I have these elements in place in my learning log I can sort through them to allow my storyline to fit comfortably in the period setting.
As mentioned earlier, this same process can be used for non-fiction as well as fiction works. Simply because fiction is designed to utilize the imagination there may still be points of historical significance woven in the fabric of your fiction.
The genre of historical fiction continues to grow and most of these authors will utilize a learning log as part of their preparatory work leading up to the actual story composition.
Perhaps the best way to describe this would be to introduce the concept of painting a room in your house. You could begin by simply painting the walls, but there may be nail holes, areas that weren’t cleaned up where the pain won’t stick very well and you might get paint remnants on things you didn’t plan on. By taking the time to tape the windows, lay down a drop cover for paint splatters, clean the walls, putty the nail holes and prime the wall, you will find that the actual job of painting can be accomplished in a much more efficient manner.
A learning log is one of the more significant tools when you are preparing to paint a masterpiece with words. Interestingly it also saves time in the long run because the bulk of research you need can be located in one familiar place – a learning log.
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