4 writing books you need to get NOW

best writing books

Beginning writing students come to me with starts in their eyes. They want to be writers and are ready to work on craft and concept. They have this dream of going to their local bookstore and seeing their book on the shelves and that everyone is going to buy it.

I have the same dream, too. I get it.

But so much about being a writer has nothing to do with the big dream and everything to do will being stubborn.

I’ve been relearning that lesson for the past couple of weeks lately. Being diligent with your writing is something that every writer and those who study and teach writing tell everyone else. We also try to practice that, though sometimes it’s easier said than done.

However, another thing writers have to be diligent in is reviewing lessons learned. For me, there are four books with so many enough lessons about the craft, I have to continue reviewing them. So, here are my four favorites.

The Elements of Style

It’s one of my favorites and it’s one of two books that I read right before I start revising or editing. It’s not just your regular grammar book, it talks about style. How should your sentences look like? What about usage? What is active voice vs passive voice? All these questions are things that should be asked of your writing in the revision process and this book reminds me of that.

On Writing Well

This book is a complement for The Elements of Style. This book concentrates more on non-fiction, however, most of the suggestions can be used in fiction writing. On Writing Well gives you thoughts on how to approach characters and place. It also hammers the point of clarity and simplicity in sentence, paragraph, and chapter structure. It’s one of my favorites and I can’t imagine going into the revision process on any project, fiction or nonfiction, without it

On Writing

This book just happens to make it on everyone’s list of how-to writing books. There’s a reason for that–it’s that good. Part memoir, part how-to, Stephen King breaks it down the craft of writing in a way few people do or can’t. My favorite is the second half of the book when he gets down to business.

From Where You Dream

What this isn’t on people’s list I will never understand. This book is less about craft and more about creativity. Robert Olen Butler is a creative writing teacher at Florida International University, a Pulitzer Prize winner, and just a general all around great writer. This book talks about creativity and being a vessel for your writing. I recommend reading this book along side one of your favorite books, it’s opens up your perspective.

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The BEST writing advice I’ve heard today

One thing I try to tell my students while I’m teaching writing — whether they are learning to write a great paragraph, essay, or story — is that the first draft needs to be messy. The messier the better. I’m talking no punctuation, spelling errors, and just a big mess. Mess = exactly what you’re supposed to do.

Why? Because you have to write the crap before you can write the good stuff which leads to the great stuff that you wanted to write in the first place.

But Ira Glass says it better here in this video.

One day I’ll learn to be succinct.

Best writing advice of the day. You’re welcome.

Ira Glass on Storytelling from David Shiyang Liu on Vimeo.

The best writing tip ever

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Not gonna lie, I’m having a freakin’ blast.  

Mostly because yesterday this was my desk. Writing the next short story for the Jennie Manning Mysteries has just been…the word, I can’t find the word…awesome? Cool? Neat? No, just right. It feels just right.

You know that feeling you get when you’re writing and the words just jump out of your fingers. It’s like you think the words and they magically appear on the page. This is what happens when writing is effortless, when it’s fun.

There’s been blog posts and books and articles about planning stories. In fact, I teach a class about how to writing and put together your book. But here’s one thing that I am reminding my writers when we start class next month.

Writing is fun.

We forget that. In a world of publishing and self publishing and marketing and such, we think about how we want our writing careers to bloom. We want to be Neil Gaiman or Zadie Smith or Alice Walker. We want acclaim to our greatness like Garcia Marquez and Isabel Allende. We want fame and fortune like that Patterson guy. We want all this and we get into this mindset of how to get there. Write. Market. Blog. Social Media. Oh, my goodness do  I have to do another social media thing? What is Google +?

Really, this is what we need to keep in mind as writers: writing is fun. It really is that simple. Listen, I’ve been writing since middle school, I got my undergrad degree in a field where I had to write all the time. My graduate degree was in, wait for it, writing. And I’ve had this blog for six years and its all about, you guessed it, writing (and other things too).

But all that is nothing like the feeling of writing something you delight in and having other people delight in it as well.  That’s a sexy feeling. That’s a feeling that I’d love to have everyday.

So, if you take nothing else from this post and from me as a teacher take this and share it. Writing is fun so I write to have fun.

Everything else is just noise.

Writers and social media: A basic how to.

What an interesting turn of events!

Recently, I asked some of my writer friends through social media for some help. I wanted needed to do some vlogging and thought a Q&A would be the best thing. I haven’t done one so I asked my writer friends what questions do you think I should answer in a video. I opened up the topic to anything concerning writing.

I received social media questions, which is pretty cool if you think about it. Writers want to know about platform — growing and keeping it. That’s similar to some questions that I’ve gotten in the past from writers, i.e. how to blog, how to blog often, how to I get people to follow me. In the world of writing, and indie writers, these questions are important.

One of the questions I received from one of my writer friends is close to my heart. He asked:

How do you develop, maintain and satisfy your following? How many different social media platforms do you use? Which ones for what reasons?

I answered a version of this question before. It all starts, like most things in life, with a question: What is the goal? (I just realized that was very Clarice Lispector of me.)

From there, my fellow writers, your social media plan will take its own shape. Don’t know what I mean? Check out the video and you’ll understand a bit more.

Now it’s your turn. Have a writing question you want answered? I got you. Leave them in the comments below and I will include it in an upcoming Q&A video.

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New look, focus for Writingtoinsanity.comIcess Fernandez Rojas is a writer, blogger, teacher, and journalist. Her commentary has appeared in The Guardian and on Huffington Post Latino Voices. Her fiction has been published in literary journals/anthologies such as Minvera Rising and Soul’s Road. Her first book, the beginning of the Jennie Manning series, will come out next year.  In addition to writing, Icess teaches fiction writing classes. Want to join the next group? Sign up  or contact her.

The 10 books that changed my life…or something like that.

Let’s all admit it. We all have seen this Facebook status:

In your status list the 10 books that have more influenced you (or something like this).

Yes, I was tagged and yes I responded but not in the way most people did. I instead wanted to write a blog post because, if you’re going to list the 10 books that influenced you, it should take a bit of thought to finish.

And it did take thought. Not lots but some. The list of books surprised me a bit; they reflected exactly who I was and always wanted to be. These books are a chronicle to my path — from the humble beginnings to regaining my voice as a person, a Latina, and a writer.

Okay, I’m getting too deep. It’s only Monday and I still have four other days to think about.

So, because of their importance to my life, I’ve decided to chose 11 books. Yes, I’m some sort of rebel, a book ninja, if you will.  There’s a reason for 11 books (please leave Doctor Who references in the comments) and I’ll explain why in a minute.

Here, listed for your reading pleasure, are my top 11 books.

1. The Boxcar Children and 2. Whispers from the Dead
I’ve paired these two children’s books together. I loved mysteries growing up and seeing the Boxcar Children on the shelf of my school library made me some sort of giddy. (Yes, I was the kid who lived in the library.) Of course I read Nancy Drew and Encyclopedia Brown but the Boxcar Children was my favorite series. Maybe because it was a bunch of kids living as hobos solving crimes…

Joan Lowery Nixon’s Whispers from the Dead was the first the time I thought I’d like to be a writer. I thought the story, which was adapted from a true story, was cool and haunting.  Add to that that she lived in Houston, the whole experience of reading the book was pretty awesome. It was at that moment that I thought to myself that I’d like to write a book one day, the kind that made people scared to sleep. Hey, I was young. What did I know in middle school?

3. ) The Complete Works of Edgar Allen Poe

Boy, was I a twisted child.

In East Harris county in the 80s, there were no bookstores. In reality, there isn’t one now that isn’t at least a 30 minute drive. Growing up, the closest we came to books was the book section at Sam’s Club or toy section (!) at the Fiesta Mart, which is a grocery store chain. In Fiesta, classic books like Treasure Island and The Three Musketeers were adapted into these small thick books for children. My favorite was The Cask of Amontillado, you know, the story where someone is killed by being cemented into a wall.

Oh my! I was so twisted.

4. Bloody Waters

This was the first mystery series I read where the detective was Latina. It was the first time I had been to Miami and I had never left Houston. I was amazed and should have known then that mystery writing would be in my future. There was something about this detective, Lupe Solano, that made me happy. Maybe it was the fact that there was someone who was similar to me in the pages of a book. Or maybe it was that her family was so similar to mine so I could identify. Or maybe, the writer was the example I needed so that I could consider this path.

5. Dreaming in Cuban

This book was the first time I compared a book to food. Dreaming in Cuban was chocolate cake, German chocolate to be exact. The writing was so rich that the thin book took me six months to finish. I savored every word and so I was beginning to understand the importance of voice in my writing. That’s when I began my first book (which no one will ever see because it’s awful. Just really bad.)

Years later, when I met Cristina Garcia AND Ana Menendez during grad school. I fan-girled so hard!

When meeting literary heroes...just don't be a dork.

6. Woodcuts of Women and 7. The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.

These books came at a dark time of my life, the time when I had lost my voice and didn’t know who I was. I was filled with the definitions others had for me. They wanted me to be something they thought I should be. I wasn’t strong enough to say no yet and too scared to acknowledge I was lost.

At the time, these books and writers were my fresh air. They gave me permission to be me and at the time that was what I needed–permission.

8. Pedro Paramo

When I read this book, it blew me away! The language, the story, the crazy magical realism before it was magical realism. Amazing. I was fascinated by the language and the world books in general could build. This was when I fell back in love with writing in a way that I hadn’t before. This was my first semester in grad school. That love hasn’t ended.

9. The Power and the Glory

As a Catholic, this one shook me to the core. How Greene questions and yet absolves Christianity was remarkable. This book taught me that it was okay to question what you’ve been told and to seek the answers through the written word. The language was strong and gritty, unapologetic.

This was the point of my life that I was reclaiming my voice. The lesson from this book: if you want your voice back you need to have big brass ones to get it and to keep it. Don’t apologize. Ever.

10. The Hour of the Star

Clarice Lispector. That’s all I have to say. She is amazing. This book is art. I still think about the main character. This book and author was such an influence that I quoted it in my graduation speech.

It’s always the season for strawberries.

And that all leads to number 11: Chronicle of a Death Foretold

This book is the culmination of everything I learned and experienced as a writer and reader. It has bits of every book that influenced me throughout my life. It has the mystery, the magical elements, a bit of journalism (like Nixon), the questioning of societal norms, amazing writing. This book also taught me what I needed to know to be a writer and brought me closer to Gabriel Garcia Marquez in a weird way.

This is why I need 11, not 10 books. I can’t leave out this one. Ever.
So, there you have it. The books that made me and that have become part of my DNA. See why I needed the blog post? Why 11?

Now it’s your turn. What are your 10 (or 11) books?
– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Youree Dr,Shreveport,United States

Be Neil Gaiman and make good art…maybe

Make good art.

I’m repeating this mantra to myself often. That’s all I have to, right? Make good art? That’s what Neil Gaiman says to do. It works for him so why not me?

Yeah, right.

That’s easier said than done. I have to do more than make good art, I have to make art and sometimes that’s the hardest part.

I have learned that I am a writer who gets testy when two things don’t happen.

1.) Writing

2.) Publication

Lately, neither has happened and it’s just getting on my nerves.

It’s the end of the semester, it’s the holiday season, it’s the time of the year where I get pulled into different directions except for the direction I’d like to go in. That’s the direction toward my writing desk where my computer’s abandonment issues grow worse by the minute.

I know what you’re thinking. I’m the queen of time management, finding time to writing even while washing dishes. If you put it that way, I guess I am. Through the years I’ve gotten quite good at writing in the in-between times of life — waiting in lines, in traffic, in meetings (shh!), while washing clothes, etc. 

But these gray days have me with a writing itch that I can’t scratch until papers are graded, work is completed, errands are done.

I don’t know about you but sometimes I wonder, quite dramatically I may add, if I’ll ever write again. It’s during this time the gremlins begin to fill me with doubt and fear. I feel less writerly and more like a hack. Am I hack? I’ve written things people like to read right? Right. I can write pretty words. Just not today, at this moment. Right now, I can just do enough to pretend I’m a writer, to sit here and stare at the screen with stories needing attention and me just blah….

Will all due respect Mr. Gaiman, it’s gray, cold, ugly and it’s been awhile since the sparkly, happy feeling of publication and creation has visited. So, I’ll just settle for art. Anything. Just anything, even if it’s a finger painting.

Or a blog post with the most angsty stream of conscious on WordPress…at least for today.
– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:I-45 N,Shenandoah,United States

Get ready for the Holiday Blog Tour 2013

Photo used through Creative Commons and taken by Flickr user Cliff.

Can you believe it’s December 1? I can’t. My mind still thinks its October and I’m surprise that I can’t find candy corn in the stories.

But the calendar, the weather, and the radio are all tell me the same thing, that it’s nearly Christmas time and it’s time to plan the big blog event.

The Holiday Blog Tour 2014 is upon us. This is the third year for the blog tour but the first time for this blog has participated. This tour began on my old blog, Writing To Insanity. Now that I’ve moved over to WordPress, I’ve brought the tour with me.

What exactly is a blog tour? Happy you asked.

It’s exactly what it sounds. It’s a series of blog linked together. Each day, one blog in the group will offer a holiday story. It could be fiction, non-fiction, or memoir. After you read the story, the blog will point you to the next stop on the tour for the next day. Then the same thing happens.

For this particular tour we have eight stops, eight bloggers/writers. Most of the writers here are returning favorites. We have a new writer, Anabel Lucio Morales, who will be joining us for the first time this year.

The entire tour kicks off December 16 and ends December 23.

So who are the writers and their blogs? Without further ado, here are the participants in the third annual Holiday Blog Tour.

Dec. 16, Teresa Carbajal Ravet, SententiaVera.com

Dec. 17 Nathasha Alvarez, Audaciouslady.com

Dec. 18, Natasha Oliver, Peace and Center

Dec. 19, Nikki Kallio, More Purple Houses

Dec. 20, Lupe Mendez, The Poet Mendez

Dec. 21, Anabel Lucio Morales, My Meandering Thoughts

Dec. 22, Icess Fernandez Rojas, IcessFernandez.com

Dec. 23, Regina Tingle, ReginaTingle.com

Click on these bloggers’ blog and get to know them. Also, stay tuned to this one to learn more about these bloggers!

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New look, focus for Writingtoinsanity.comIcess Fernandez Rojas is a writer, blogger, teacher, and journalist. Her commentary has appeared in The Guardian and on Huffington Post Latino Voices. Her fiction has been published in literary journals/anthologies such as Minvera Rising and Soul’s Road. She’s working on her first book and teaches fiction writing classes. Contact her or sign up to know more.

 

How to finish your writing project like a BOSS

Best advice ever

I received the best writing question today from one of my Twitter followers. @ShortT318 wrote:

Ms. @Icess How do you slay dragons with your pen? How do I keep myself from stopping on writing a story or article?

I get this question often and I’m a bit of an expert in it. See, I also run into this problem—so many ideas and so little time. I start and then I move on to the next idea even though I hadn’t finished the first one. It’s a thing I think most writers do. It comes from having so much love for what you do and/or you are scared that you won’t get around to writing all the ideas that come to your head.

During my reporting days, that was always something I was never a fan of – the story ideas that never got done. I had lists upon lists and file folders sitting on my desk with ideas that were so good that it made me daydream of the movie that would be made of me writing it. Ok, that’s an exaggeration but you know what I mean. Good ideas. You want to work on them all the time.

But here’s the thing, @GoodKidRachetCity and other writers, you will always have the ideas, you will drown in them, but know that the best ones will always find a way to the light.

Ah, but I haven’t answer the question yet—how to finish your writing project? Here’s what I do and I hope it helps all my writers out there.

What is it that you are actually writing?

There are different strategies for different types of writing. For articles/some blogposts, I use the “hard write” technique if I’m finding myself sluggish and deadline is looming. For articles, after I’ve already reported, I start with the quotes. I chose the ones I really want or know need to be in my article, then I write the transitions, then the nut graph(s), and then the lede. After all that, I read it to make sure it makes sense. This is the revision part, the part when I make sure sentences are complete and make sense, words are spelled correctly, and that the article is structurally sound and is the appropriate word/length count. It’s called a hard write because that’s what it is, the down and dirty part of writing this thing, the hard part. After you do the hard write a couple of times, you’ll have a tool in your tool belt and a technique to get things done.

Time, time, time

Here’s something that works well for blog posts and some short stories (like super short) and maybe a chapter or two. I set the egg timer for a certain amount of time and just race against the clock to get the post done. This was lovely when I did my own NaNoBloMo last year, writing a new post every day for two weeks (which turned into a month quickly). In the morning, I’d set my eggtimer for 30 minutes and write the post. However, I wouldn’t revise it until my lunch hour. By then my revision for the post would go quickly because the heavy lifting was already done. Then I would post and add the needed items – photo, links, etc – when I came home at night if I didn’t already post it at lunch time.

This is a technique I’ve talked about before being helpful for National Novel Writing Month. It’s the same basic concept except with blog posts and that pesky chapter you need to gain traction on.

Collecting string

This is a phrase that is used by some of the old school newspaper writers (of which I kinda consider myself to be one, if you can imagine that). Essentially, it’s a way to write lots of projects at the same time while still turning in something for the daily paper.

This is how it works. You collect the information you need for a story and set it aside in a file folder, or file on your computer, etc. During this time you’re still writing other things but for the bigger project or the project you can’t get to yet, you are saving the information that you need as you come across it. In fact you can start writing or interviewing, meantime you’re still writing other things. All the while you are saving these bits, i.e. collecting string. Once you have enough string, you can dedicate some time to finally putting it together. (It’s usually during this time that reporters go to their editors with an amazing budget line to sell it to them and therefore getting that precious day to one week to finish it. )

Writers who aren’t daily newspaper writers can do the same. In fact, I’m doing it now. While I’m finishing the first part of my short story, I’m researching the second part and beginning the novel that will be published next year, which I’ve been collecting string on. So how does that break down? The short will be completed and in revision in the next week. A file in my Scrivener program and a Pinterest board is helping me keep part two organized as I do online research and did a quick trip to Saint Louis. Meanwhile my novel, which I had been collecting string on since before this short story and is half way done, is ready for some dedicated time and will get it in about a week. Yup, that’s a lot of balls in the air.

Just sit down and finish

Above all else, the best technique is to just sit down and finish the thing. Find pockets of time. For example, I’m writing this post while at the beauty salon, under the drier. My laptop is on my lap, iTunes are playing in my ear, and my fingers are flying away at the keyboard. I knew I was going to be under this thing for at least an hour (ugh!) so I made sure I had something to fill my time and help me achieve my writing goals.

At this point you may be saying you don’t have time to get this done. Here’s some suggestions – get up an hour early, stay up an hour later, use your lunch time/break time, turn off the TV, don’t accept every invitation to go out, schedule dedicated writing time, plan a trip away to get some writing done.

There you have it, @@ShortT318 and all who aspire to write. There are your tips to “slay dragons with your pen daily”. Hope this helps!

Other writers, what tips do you have to manage your writing projects?

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New look, focus for Writingtoinsanity.comIcess Fernandez Rojas is a writer, blogger, teacher, and journalist. Her commentary has appeared in The Guardian and on Huffington Post Latino Voices. Her fiction has been published in literary journals/anthologies such as Minvera Rising and Soul’s Road. She’s working on her first book and teaches fiction writing classes. Contact her or sign up to know more.

Learning to write historical fiction

Downtown Saint Louis

I’ve just returned from my research trip to Saint Louis, MO and I’m brimming with ideas!

Research trip? Yes! But in case this is news, here’s why I went:

I’ve been working on a longer short story (by longer, I mean 20 pages and more) that will become a novel sometime next year.  The first part has been pretty much written, which is the extended short story. Now the second part takes place in Saint Louis, MO in the mid 40s/ early 50s. So, talking with a friend, we decided to take the train trip up for a day in Saint Louis from Louisiana. A quick weekend getaway for her and a mini research trip for me. Caught up? Good.

I had certain goals for the trip, which I think I achieved and now it’s a matter of developing a plan to learn more about this part of my story. Now I’m on the part that I do research on…well…doing the research. Essentially, now that I got a feel for the place, what was my next step?

I found some great resources online and some amazing advice. My two graduate advisors, Aimee Liu and Micheline Marcom are also hosting a panel on this for the AWP conference in Seattle in February. Until then, however, here’s some advice that is pretty awesome and will tie me over until then.

1.) “Allow your character to question and explore their society” 

This gem came from the Writer’s Digest website.  I think that’s why I was so keen on just getting a feel for the place (I have a slight crush on Saint Louis as a result). I wanted to know what made that place tick and what the pulse of it was. Essentially, the present is because the past was. (How’s that for a weird sentence.) So, if the city did a certain thing or thought a certain way  then I’d want to know if it was because of recent or past events. Past events, before my timeline, means that feeling was probably around then.

2.) Use historians

This bit of advice is a good one and my friend Cate over at CommuniCATE Resources for Writers had a great guest blogger write about it.  The internet is a wonderful resource but there’s nothing like hearing people talk about the era you’re writing about. You get to ask questions, ask for specifics, and there is really something magical about two people talking about something they are really interested in. I already know that I’ll have to talk to a historian for my story. I also want to visit a place that I didn’t get a chance to visit this last time that could be important to the plot.

3.) “The language has to match the setting”

This last lesson seems kind of obvious but I’ve already caught myself breaking it.  This reminder comes from this Publisher’s Weekly article. Since the time period I’m writing about and the community I’m inhabiting in this prose is so foreign to me, I’m finding myself relying on the revision process for catching and changing the modern phrases. I’m also trying to make sure I’m not putting so many phrases from the past that the reader doesn’t understand what I’m writing.  It’s a bit of a balancing act at the moment so obviously I’ll be working on this.

Lots of things were learned and enjoyed on this trip. I’m already making plans to go back in 2014 sometime. Here’s some pictures I took to help me with the writing.

So, do you have any tips for writing historical fiction? Share them in the comments below.

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New look, focus for Writingtoinsanity.comIcess Fernandez Rojas is a writer, blogger, teacher, and journalist. Her commentary has appeared in The Guardian and on Huffington Post Latino Voices. Her fiction has been published in literary journals/anthologies such as Minvera Rising and Soul’s Road. She’s working on her first book and teaches fiction writing classes. Contact her or sign up to know more.

Researching your story: Taking a research trip for your writing

Meet me in St. Louie, Louie! The trip for the current story I'm working on to Saint Louis, MO. Photo by Steve Moses
Meet me in St. Louie, Louie! The trip for the current story I’m working on to Saint Louis, MO. Photo by Steve Moses

Have story? Will travel.

And by traveling I mean getting on a train to St. Louis, Missouri to hang out for 12 hours and then coming right back. That’s what I’m doing this weekend. This research trip was a long time over due.

There’s this story I’ve been working on since before February 2012. It’s set in the south in the 1940s. I had been having some trouble with it at the time. It wasn’t until I hopped a train to Chicago that I realized what the story was and what it could possibly be. On that train trip up and back, the story opened up to me. In fact, one of the key scenes takes place on a train and by far it’s one of my favorites.

Now, I’m getting back on the train to go to Saint Louis, another place that is in this story.

This trip comes at a perfect time as well. This particular story is being worked on as a short story. Because my writing schedule is about to pick up soon with another project (Yes, I’m still going to tell you about that soon. Very soon-ish.) I wanted to work on it to the point that I could pick it up after my project. But I also wanted it solidified as a story with its own arc and rhythm and enter it for contests and possible publication later. Essentially, I want this story to grow roots and to find its tribe so making it a short story that could become a novela or novel later on was a perfect idea.

I’ve done some research already on the front end, i.e. the internet, but I’ve never been to Saint Louis and needed to get a feel for the place. My friend and I also needed a mini-vacay for not a lot of money so there you go… a solution.

This is how I plan to conduct my research:

Getting a feel

Because this is a short trip, I’m wanting to play tourist and get a feel for the place. Since my story takes place in the 1940s, I’m going to want to see buildings and places that maybe from that time period (which will happens as we we’re on our way to some fun attractions). I’m also going to want to see names of streets, neighborhoods, statues of big local heroes (maybe).  In the 12 hours I will be there, I want to get a chance to know what kind of place Saint Louie is. At least enough to do…

A bit of plotting and character collecting

The next part of the story takes place in Missouri, but I’m not quite sure what the next turn in the plot would be. I’m the kind who writes as the characters tell me to write so doing some plotting, if only mentally, could help when I finally sit down and write this thing.

I also want to do a bit of people watching. What are Missourians like? Do they talk slow? Are there certain phrases they use? How would a southern girl do in a midwest city?

Checking my scenes

Some of the scenes I’ve already written happen on a train. Since I’ll be on one, I want to make sure my descriptions are dead on. The sway of the trains. The sound of the rails. The smell of the food from the food car. It’s been a bit since I’ve ridden on that train (and that line) so I’ll be double checking my work, sort of speak.

Getting ready for the next trip, maybe.

This is a short trip. Twelve hours! So, I’m going to have notes and questions that will need to be addressed. What I don’t find online and through pictures I’ll have to interview people to get. I’m one who likes to conduct interviews in person. So if it looks like I’ll have to interview half a dozen people or more, I’ll ride the train back and spend more time in the city.

How am I going to do this, collect all this information? I’m going to take pictures. Lots. Notes, of course. But also I’m be paying attention to my natural reactions to things. This is very much me becoming my character and discovering the city at the same time she is.

You can follow me on Twitter or Google+ as I go through this adventure, I’m sure I’ll have tons to say. I’ll also post stuff on my Pinterest board after awhile.

Have you been on a research trip for your writing? How did you handle it?

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New look, focus for Writingtoinsanity.com

Icess Fernandez Rojas is a writer, blogger, teacher, and journalist. Her commentary has appeared in The Guardian and on Huffington Post Latino Voices. Her fiction has been published in literary journals/anthologies such as Minvera Rising and Soul’s Road. She’s working on her first book and teaches fiction writing classes. Contact her or sign up to know more.