Writing and research

The current module in my writing course is about doing research for fiction writing. Our tutor provided the students with a list of questions and instructed us to visit the State Library (Battye Library) to find the relevant information. It wasn’t a test of who could find the best material – the purpose was to encourage the students to physically get out there and find the richness of resources available to create interesting and informative stories. Accessing The West Australian newspaper on microfilm was an important part of the exercise.

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I rocked up to Busselton library yesterday with my list of questions. I found myself in a panic for a few minutes, thinking to myself, ‘why can’t I just Google it?’ It was hard work looking through indexes of hard copies of books to glean a couple of sentences for the exercise. After about fifteen minutes I found myself lost in the experience and wanting to take home every book I picked up!

I spent two hours at the library and found everything I needed except the newspapers on microfilm. This morning I found digitalised copies of the West Australian on Trove at the National Gallery. My task then was to research what was happening in the wider world on the date of my birth. It is a fabulous resource and I spent hours reading through it and making notes. I then repeated the process with my mother’s date of birth in 1922 – again I found some great reading!

Ferguson Valley 015 (Copy)I now have until Monday to write a piece of fiction (500-600 words) based on, and using the information gleaned through the newspapers and library research. The story will be set on that date in November 1954. The assignment is due on Monday – feeling a bit under pressure to come up with a good plot. I can see some brainstorming, mind-mapping or whatever it takes, happening here!

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8 thoughts on “Writing and research

  1. I love library research. It’s easy to spend hours lost in what you find there. Plus research in a large library is good physical exercise — walking from the indexes back to the stacks, then back and forth looking for
    the right volume, then stretching up to get the volume (for me they are always on the top shelf) , carrying large heavy volumes to a reading table, walking to the microfilm machines and maybe even up and down the stairs Multiply all that by a number of different resources and you have a pretty good work out without paying for a gym membership ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Glad you enjoyed the experience in BUsso Library!
    The State Library is a great place for research. Noted for its helpfulness. I was there 2 years ago researching for non-fiction, and was given ‘the white gloves’ for archival material. There’s quite a thrill in accessing old journals. The trick is being sufficiently goal-oriented in your research that you don’t end up with information about everything!

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