from "The 5 Rs of Creative Nonfiction" (Lee Gutkind)
"Real Life" "Reflection" "Research" "Reading" "Writing"
The research phase actually launches and anchors the creative effort. Whether it is a book or essay I am planning, I always begin my quest in the library - for three reasons. First, I need to familiarize myself with the subject. If it is something about which I do not know, I want to make myself knowledgeable enough to ask intelligent questions. If I can't display at least a minimal understanding of the subject about which I am writing, I will lose the confidence and the support of the people who must provide access to the experience.
Secondly, I will want to assess my competition. What other essays, books and articles have been written about this subject? Who are the experts, the pioneers, the most controversial figures? I want to find a new angle - not write a story similar to one that has already been written. And finally, how can I reflect and evaluate a person, subject or place unless I know all of the contrasting points-of-view? Reflection may permit a certain amount of speculation, but only when based upon a solid foundation of knowledge.