Diary of a non-fiction book: Website research

Richard Cadbury (picture loaned to me by a member of the Cadbury family)

I have been beavering away at the biography, but it is dragging on a bit now.

We had so many interferences and interruptions that the deadline kept on being pushed back. I was ill and then the poet was ill and then we were burgled and then we had another attempted break-in … and, and, and … 

Even I’m sick of the excuses.

I am, however, currently in the writing cave furiously trying to finish this book. I didn’t want another extension. I just want to get it done and delivered.

In my last post I promised that this post would cover website research. But I have so many books and other resources, that websites really have formed only a small part of my research. I have used them, however. And here is what for.

Because I have several different sources that weren’t all written at the time that Richard Cadbury was alive, some of the information contradicts itself, despite those authors using pretty much the same initial source. Where I have not been able to confirm the correct information, I’ve included a note to say that sources differ but with likely suggestions of my own where I have them.

As I go through my notes and free-write into my Scrivener file, if there’s a contradiction like the one mentioned above, or if it’s not clear what the source meant, then I’ll do an online search. But I try to keep away from Wikipedia as it’s mostly written by enthusiastic amateurs rather than informed experts.

Instead I’ll look for history sites or BBC sites or, in this instance, Quaker sites. Also, if a place is mentioned in the book and the place is still there today, I’m doing an online search for the latest information and, again, I’ll avoid the Wiki sites and stick to the official sites. Then, when I’ve used what I need to use, I’ve added the URL to the bibliography at the back of the book, including the article or page title where applicable.

I won’t spend hours and hours clicking on links, surfing from one site to the next. I’ll choose two or three, and stick to those, and then go back to the writing.

As with the book reading, I’ll read and digest the material, and then rewrite it in my own words, but quoting extracts where I feel that the chosen website says it much better than I can.

I’m still working to Pomodoros, but I’ve shortened my break every 25 minutes from 10 minutes to 5 minutes, and I’m having a longer 15-minute break every two hours. Then I stop the timer while I have dinner and when I finish for the day.

And I have just under 45,000 words written. I lowered the target word-count from 70,000 to 60,000 with the publisher because I really don’t think I have enough material to stretch it to 70,000 words. And anyway, my original book proposal said 50,000 words.

So, just over 15,000 words to go. I’ve cancelled everything now until it’s done.

The next diary post will cover copyright of and permissions for images and extracts.