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Editor's Notes #57, Research for Writers and the Inside Story
August 31, 2008

To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism,
to steal ideas from many is research.

-- --Anonymous

In this issue:

1. Introducing A Researcher
2. Ticked My Funnybone
3. The Inside Story
4. The Other Apostrophe

1. Introducing A Researcher
Good writers do research for writing. Some writers become major researchers. I asked Stacey Dennick, a writing researcher, to introduce herself and give some examples of things a writer might need to research. Here's Stacey...

Let me share some recent questions:
Q: Were Ritz crackers available in 1950?

A: Yes, they were developed in 1934, during the Great Depression, when Americans wanted affordable, yet seemingly classy food.

Q: What kind of gun would a WWI soldier have used?

A: Probably a German Luger or a British Webley.

Q: What does Aqua Velva smell like?

A: Aqua Velva Ice Blue, created in 1935 is a combination of the following:
Top Notes: Bergamot, Lavender, Peppermint, Petitgrain, Lemon.
Middle Notes: Clary Sage, Jasmin, Vetiver, Sandal, Cedarwood.
Base Notes: Labdanum, Musk, Amber, Moss, Leather.

While researching life in 1950 for my MFA in Writing, I discovered useful sites, many of them buried in long lists on obscure sites. There were too many resources to keep track of with bookmarks, so I created a website. contains everything from a visual dictionary to historical calendars to writing prompts and more, organized into eighteen categories.

Give it a try. I hope you'll find it useful and easy to use. If you can't find an answer to your query through the resources listed on, please email me,

sdennick(at sign)comcast(dot)net

I like a challenge.

Good hunting,



2.Ticked My Funnybone
With school start-up looming, I just had to share this headline:
“Kids Make Nutritious Snacks”


3.The Inside Story
If your writing sounds dull and uninspiring, you may be missing something important -- the inside story. Most writing has an outside story and an inside story.

The outside story is what others could observe. It's what is going on in the outer world.

In contrast, the inside story stays hidden unless the writer uncovers it. The inside story is what is going on inside -- inside a character, or inside the writer, or even a speculation of what could be inside the reader.

The outside story is Just the facts, Ma'am.

The inside story takes us beyond the facts to the emotion or the meaning. The inside story tells what only the writer can tell. No one else can tell any particular inside story because of its private nature.

Choose one of your favorite books. Read a chapter. Can you find the inside story? Notice how the author showed you those secrets. Hunting down inside stories and uncovering the craft that exposes them will give you tools to move your own writing forward.


4.The Other Apostrophe
Apostrophe: No, not the one used in spelling. There is a literary device called an apostrophe in which the speaker turns from one audience to another. The new audience is absent -- a person, a nonexistent character, a thing, or an abstraction.

Used well, an apostrophe elevates the speech by drawing in the absent audience. The audience cannot reply, so the speaker gains stature without risking control of the discourse.

Examples: Well, Mr. King, what do you think of Mr. Obama's position?

Judge, O you gods, how dearly Caesar loved him.

O, pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth,
That I am meek and gentle with these butchers!

Oh, Death, where is your sting?


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