The aspect of realism involved in writing is often overlooked. The need for research in every genre, whether fiction or non-fiction, was what a small group of writers gathered to learn about in a workshop led by creative writing teacher Pamela Schoenewaldt and Jamie Osborn, librarian for the Knoxville Public Library.
The workshop, titled “Smart Research Tactics for Writers,” was sponsored by the Knoxville Writers’ Guild and held at Central United Methodist Church on Saturday, June 4. The workshop was designed to give the participants a solid foundation to start finding valuable sources for the amount of research that goes into writing.
Schoenewaldt discussed the research that went into her latest book, “Under the Same Blue Sky,” which deals with situation of German Americans in the WWI era, the kinds of information needed and where she went to get the information.
She stressed the importance of efficiency and fact checking.
“You must be accurate because writing fiction involves a willing suspension of disbelief, and as soon as you have something in there that’s inaccurate people will stop believing you,” Schoenewaldt said. “You don’t want that.”
Schoenewaldt also shared her hopes of the participants turning to the library for help.
“Many people believe that all you need is to bum around on google. That’s not even the fastest way to go and it’s not always the most reliable,” she said. “Many writers in this area don’t realize the wealth of info that’s available at their fingertips.”
Osborn discussed the resources of the public library, such as the McClung Collection as well as the different examples of sources and ways to get them.
She also explained the differences between internet and onsite research.
“With any kind of writing, whether it’s historical or fiction, you need to make sure your information is correct,” Osborn said. “It really makes a difference, so I try to direct people to the right places to get the correct information.” added Osborn.
Towards the end, participants worked in small groups and talked about their story ideas. Osborn also provided much needed support such as telling the participants individually what they can research and where to find the information.
One of the participants, Kate Caldwell, enjoyed this aspect of the workshop and gained much insight to help with her writing.
“I really was stuck at the research point. The hardest part is narrowing the focus and understanding where to go for knowledge,” Caldwell said. “I don’t feel like I can progress with this idea until I have facts, so this is exactly what I really needed to hear in terms of process.”
The Knoxville Writers’ Guild’s next workshop, lead by member Bonny Millard, will be held Saturday, July 16 from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. at Central United Methodist Church.
Featured image by Tiara Holt
Edited by Taylor Owens
Tiara Holt is a senior at the University of Tennessee majoring in Journalism and Electronic Media with a minor in Cinema Studies. Aside from being a rock music enthusiast and food lover, her pastimes include drawing, painting, reading and watching The X-Files.