blending research

Something that has been stirring inside of me for awhile now is the way research is an integral part of a writers life. It doesn’t matter the genre you are writing; research is critical. As teachers it is easy to put “research” in its own box; devoting time to it in a unit of study, but not truly tapping the power of it as a writer.

I realized this when I first embarked on writing fiction. I was surprised to find myself consistently using my research skills to complete my draft. I’ve been dabbling with this in classrooms. As often as possible, I beg ask teachers to let me bring research into their current unit of study.

I’m on a quest to break down the walls surrounding research in classrooms.

After Sam and I finished reading The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, we faced the acknowledgments. Line after line filed his research that impacted his fictional story. He directed us to websites to learn more, he shared museums he studied, he listed actual films that influenced his choices as a writer. Research impacted his story.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by
Brian Selznick (Scholastic)

Research impacts narrative. Research impacts persuasion. And I’m thinking these are reciprocal relationships. Story impacts research choices. Opinions impact narrative. I’m playing with these ideas, studying how this plays out for myself as a writer, for professional writers, and for our youngest writers. I’m thinking about what this means when filtered through Common Core Standards.

Yes, this is the beginning of a new professional project. Where it will lead, I’m not sure. It is prickling my mind, making me ask questions, and tugging on Mission Story.

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  1. One author I can think of who is an amazing researcher is Louise Borden. She spends hours, days, and months researching her projects whether they are fiction, nonfiction, or a blend of both. I would agree that research is critical.

  2. Whatever one is writing, I think you're right that research informs and enriches the words. Remember your recent post about the teens at your house. It seemed even then that you were observing/researching their behavior to tuck into your work on your fiction perhaps. Thanks for starting this path of work Ruth. It'll be interesting to see where you go with it.

  3. I'm glad that you shared these emerging thoughts with us. I will keep that in mind as I am thinking ahead to next year. It seems like mentor text/reading like writers is also a form of research/inquiry in and of itself as well.

  4. Last year Brian Selznick came to a literacy institute at a local college. I sat in awe as he told story after story about the research he did to write Hugo It/he was fascinating. I wished every student could have listened to him speak and hear the efforts, thoughts, research, time that go into writing. It gave me a new appreciation for the work that authors do and the miracle that each beautiful book is. You wonders here are so intriguing and have me thinking about all of this again in a different light.

  5. Wow…is all I can say and really very intriguing how it fit into what they seem to be trying to get to in Common Core as well. The more we inform our background knowledge the more we can step into our stories…fiction and non. I think it is funny and really wonderful that the new fiction writer is saying they need to use research and the new non-fiction writer knows that they need voice.