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The 'Backwards' Research Guide for Writers The 'Backwards' Research Guide for Writers
Using your Life for Reflection, Connection, and Inspiration
Sonya Huber

Series: Frameworks for Writing

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Paperback Price

Nautilus Award 2012 Silver Winner - Creative Process

The "Backwards" Research Guide for Writers demystifies the writing process by inviting writers of all levels to focus on their passions, questions, and obsessions as the key to generating seeds for further exploration of the world around them. Writers then develop these questions into focused projects that explore the teller’s central role in the open-ended quest of unfolding a research topic. The boom in narrative journalism, memoir, and creative nonfiction has generated wonderful writing, but no resource for writers exists to bridge the gap between passionate research and the page. This book addresses that gap by turning the task of “research” on its head and by speaking to students who resist the idea of research as an objective and dry assignment. Students are invited to experiment creatively with collecting observations and information and then to step beyond their subjective realities to interact with the world around them and ultimately become vulnerable authors willing to change their perspectives as they research and write.

Developed with input from college student writers, The "Backwards" Research Guide for Writers is relevant as a text for undergraduate and postgraduate courses in composition, creative nonfiction, literary journalism, and feature writing as well as for working journalists and other writers seeking a new way of approaching a writing project. It includes interviews with notable authors that focus not on the completed and intimidating project of a successful author, but on the project as it took shape and mystified a researcher. Another unique feature is a section in every chapter on ethics, as ethical questions are central to the writing process as well as a method for sparking interest in writing and learning. The guide includes extensive examples of research challenges and dilemmas, strategies for planning a research project, exercises for generating ideas, a guide for writing the research-based work, an appendix of on-line databases, a section in each chapter focused on ethics in research and writing called “gray matter,” a selection of recommended readings, and a bibliography of conventional research guides.

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Introduction for Instructors: The Context for Seeking as Research

Section I. Research: An Inside Job
Chapter 1. Write About Anything
Chapter 2. Meet the Author: You
Conversation 1 with Ben Vogt: Wandering Research
Chapter 3. Areas of Expertise: Using What You Already Know
Chapter 4. Living and Loving the Questions

Section II. The Inside Meets the Outside: Paying Attention as Research
Chapter 5. Learning to See
Conversation 2 with Bill Roorbach: Immersion Research
Chapter 6. Responding to Reality
Chapter 7. Uncharted Obsessions
Conversation 3 with Steve Almond: Freakdom
Chapter 8. Beginner’s Mind

Section III. Big Bang: Form and Structured Chaos in Research
Chapter 9. Take Note
Chapter 10. Noodling as a Research Method
Conversation 4 with Joe Mackall: Places, People, and Paper
Chapter 11. Conversations
Conversation 5 with Robin Hemley: Interviewing

Section IV. Open Minds Invite Surprises
Chapter 12. Twists and Turns in the Research Story
Conversation 6 with Jill Christman: The Research Journey
Chapter 13. The Research Road Map
Chapter 14. Finding Your Way
Chapter 15. Writing the Story’s Journey
Chapter 16. Revision: Seeing Again

Appendix A. Experiments in this Book: Short
Appendix B. Experiments in this Book: Long
Appendix C. Experiments in this Book: Take-Home
Appendix D. Recommended Reading
Appendix E. Source Citations Using MLA Style

'Offers a very helpful perspective on the writing and research process. Recommended.'
Choice, Vol 49, No 10, June 2012

'This is a practical, hands-on writing textbook which could be conveniently used in a number of classroom and workshop settings with beginner researchers and writers, as well as independently. ...Huber has produced an organized, thought-provoking and practical guide book for would-be writers. Although the idea of using one's life as creative material is hardly new, her emphasis on self-knowledge and contemplative resourcefulness, or "backwardness", is refreshing and timely. The book is well-written and carefully edited and invites both cover-to-cover reading and intermittent dipping into. Instructors and students alike will find something to appeal to their needs and tastes... .'

ISBN-10 (Hardback)1845534417
ISBN-13 (Hardback)9781845534417
Price (Hardback)£75.00/$115.00
ISBN-10 (Paperback)1845534425
ISBN-13 (Paperback)9781845534424
Price (Paperback)£24.99/$39.95
Publication DateNovember 2011
Size234 x 156mm
Illustrations8 figures
Readershipundergraduates, postgraduates and writers

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