Gather

Before you start any writing project, you want to gather the material you will use to write from. You are looking for as much material as you can find. At this stage, don’t be picky. Just gather whatever is available.

There are four ways to gather information.

1. Senses: Go on location to the place you are writing about and use your five senses to transport your reader to where your story takes place.

What do you see and hear?

What can you smell and feel?

Is there anything to taste?

2. Research: Do your homework. Everyone knows you can type names of places and people and organizations into your Google search bar and find information. Don’t forget to check trade and chamber of commerce websites, too. When you come across a startling fact, verify that it is true by finding the same fact in three separate sources. Keep notes about where you found your information.

3. Interview: Ask questions, and listen carefully to the answers. Take notes. Learn how to drop the vowels out of the words your write down so you can keep up with your subjects  as they talk. After the interview, take time to reread your notes and add the vowels back so you will remember the content.

If you record the interview, listen to it again. Try not to depend only on technology. Take notes on paper or on your computer as well. Most writers have a horrible story about the time technology failed them. Use your printed or typed notes as a back up.

When you take notes and your subject says something you know you will want to refer to later, look down at your recorder and write down the time code in your notes so you can return to it later.

4. Your Brain: Pull details out of your brain. You know more than you think you do. And you have a few opinions, too. If you are writing about an experience you have had, close your eyes, see the scene and remember as much as you can about what happened. Reach for a pad of paper and a pen. Make a list of what happened. Use this list when you write.