View Full Version : NF research text help please...

08-16-2007, 06:53 PM
Hi, everyone. I want to write some nonfiction books on historical subjects, with a tremendous amount of research and citations. My question is, how do I write in between the citations? I don't want to just copy information chunks and the research results; I want to have something to say about it myself. What or how do you write in between the research facts so you are not just writing a list of information from other sources? What makes it interesting in between the quotes? Thanks in advance for any ideas or suggestions. Take care, Kitty

Lauri B
08-17-2007, 03:34 PM
Hi Kitty,
I'm not sure what you're asking--of course you'll need to have something to say about the topic; otherwise, why would you write a book about it?
You need to take a stand on your subject, whatever it is, and use the research to support your arguments.

08-18-2007, 08:19 AM
Hi, Nomad, thanks for your reply. I understand your question. I've been collecting data and cant, and I don't really have an argument nor have I been thinking about proving a point. I just think the facts themselves are fascinating and never thought about having an argument. I guess I should read over all the data and see if I can think of one.

I read a lot of biographies and I don't see a point being proven, just a recounting of the facts. I am not thinking of a biography per se, but info about various aspects of life in a certain time period. Do you think I would need an argument for that? Thanks again!

Lauri B
08-18-2007, 05:08 PM
Actually, most biographies start with a premise (or a point): for example, I just read a terrific biography of Theodore Roosevelt which focused on his childhood. The entire premise of the book was that his very unique childhood shaped his entire life, his political philosophy, and the course of his life.
If you're planning on writing about life in a particular time period (let's just say the Renaissance, for example's sake), you have to start with a premise (your "stand"): your premise could be that life was harder; life was simpler; life was more interesting; the lack of technology at the time was the reason that there was such an enormous resurgence of creativity and invention; the rise of the middle class in Venice and the establishment of the great family dynasties of Italy changed European culture forever; the plague was actually beneficial to everyday life in Europe during the Renaissance. My point is that all of these topics are actually taking a stand on something, because you'll be proving your points and drawing conclusions based on your research. The research alone isnt' going to tell the story; you'll tell the story and you'll infuse it with your own ideas, prejudices, knowledge, and conclusions. Does this make sense? Am I being too English teacher-y? Old habits die hard.

08-19-2007, 03:45 AM
Dear Nomad,

Thank you so much for your post. It wasn't English-teacherish at all, but was very insightful and helpful. It makes absolute sense and I am going to read over all my notes and see if somewhere I have a point hidden in it. Of course, I'm the kind of person that reads lists just for the fun of it, so I may have overlooked something! Anyway, I will go over things and see if I can construct a premise that relates to what I've collected. Thank you again for your help. :e2flowers

08-19-2007, 03:32 PM
Hi Kitty,

It took me a couple days to mull over your question and read Nomad's responses, but your situation is very similar in how I constructed my first book.

Like yours, my first and third books were built largely from research. I'd like to tell you how I did it, and maybe it'll work for you, too.

I typed up the rough draft in a logical progression based on the research materials, taking the ideas and information and just typing them down. Periodically I would use a direct quote if I felt the passage called for one. After the first draft was finished, I rewrote and revised, adding transitions and conclusions, but trying to keep everything objective at the same time.

After numerous rewrites and revisions and further rewrites, I had a draft that no longer resembled anything from original source material. Each chapter was now a story with a beginning, middle and end.

Once the publisher had it, the editor made further suggestions and did further editing, and what resulted was a very readable history book.

So, that's what I did. If you follow the link from my signature, you can see the books in the AW library. You can also read excerpts on amazon and google books to get a further idea of how I wrote the text.

Hope that helped,