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Where Do You Start Reading?

In my previous post I talked about the sequence that I go through in writing a trade book for general readers.  I must admit, I’ve never systematically thought through that sequence until yesterday!  I just have a way of working, and when I thought about what that was, I realized it was this sequence.  1. Doing basic research/reading/and outlining; 2. Writing a prospectus for the publisher; 3. Reading massively; 4. Outlining the book; 5. Writing it; 6.  Revising it.   I will describe how I go about doing each of these steps in the following posts. The first question is this: if one needs to do some basic research and reading, leading to a basic outline, as the first step – how does one decide what to read?     That’s an especially acute question if you want to be working in a field that you are not overly familiar with, as was my case when I wanted this past March to start reading about “memory” – both from psychological perspectives (especially cognitive psychology) and social (“collective” memory).   [...]

2020-04-03T16:35:49-04:00September 4th, 2014|Book Discussions|

Writing a Trade Book

QUESTION: I am interested in your writing process, and want to know how much planning you do before you put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard? Have you planned the whole book? How detailed are the plans for each chapter or do you just work with a thesis for each chapter? I am speaking of the process you go through for a trade book. I assume the process for the scholarly book is a bit different, but if so, how so? RESPONSE: I get asked this question every now and then, and think that maybe I’ll devote a few posts to trying to answer it.  I will focus my response to the question specifically of how I go about writing trade books.  Writing scholarly monographs is a different kettle of fish, and more people are interested, I think, in the books for general audiences, since these are the ones that get read the most.  So how do I go about writing a trade book? As a preliminary I should say that I am on [...]

2020-04-03T16:35:55-04:00September 3rd, 2014|Book Discussions, Reader’s Questions|

My Approach to Doing Research

QUESTION: You’ve told us about reading book after book after book before you are chose to write your book. I’d appreciate your sharing a little info on how you take notes during all of this reading. And how do you decide what to make notes on what not to put into notes?   RESPONSE: Right – this is a very big issue for scholars in the Humanities, since what we do, for the most part, is read books and write books. So knowing how to read books is very important. In particular it is important because there are so *many* books to read (not to mention articles – there are even more of these). How does one master the massive amount of scholarship that is out there, on any one problem? Every year, for example, there are dozens of books and articles written about, say, Jesus, or the Gospel of John, or the writings of Paul, or – pick your topic. So if one has not kept up with scholarship on, say, Jesus, for ten [...]

2020-04-03T16:36:03-04:00September 2nd, 2014|Book Discussions, Reader’s Questions|
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