Saint Mary's University Writing Centre

Halifax, NS

Children’s science author L.E. Carmichael on her writing process

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 Here’s our own Dr. Lindsey Carmichael, writing tutor and published author of science-focused children’s books, talking about her writing process!

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

There are a lot of brilliant science books out there for kids, but I think one thing that makes my work different is my background as a scientist. I think it gives me a slightly different perspective than that of authors who love science, but never studied it at the level I have. Because I work part time at a university, I also have access to a lot of research materials that other writers might not be able to find or afford (most professional journals charge pricey subscription and licensing fees). My own research experiences, and those of my scientist friends, also help me identify little-known, but utterly awesome, stories to share with kids.

Why do I write what I do?

I started out writing fiction, but fiction is highly competitive and I wasn’t making much headway with publishers.

Sources I used while writing Gene Therapy

Then, in 2010, it occurred to me that by switching to nonfiction, I could leverage my academic credentials and break into the biz. That sounds mercenary of me, but I quickly realized that nonfiction is a lot more fun to write than most people think it is, and I absolutely love the research process (so much so that I often have to remind myself to stop chasing facts and start writing already!)

In terms of subject matter, I choose projects that I’m fascinated by or subjects I want to learn more about. And I dream about the day someone will come up to me and tell me that my books are the reason they love science.

How does my writing process work?

I love the word “process” – it sounds so organized!

I usually start with exploratory research. I get my hands on some good books about my topic and troll through them with a wide net, looking for anything that sparks my “oh wow” response. This continues until the book starts to take shape in my head – until I’ve figured out roughly what I want to cover and what order it goes in. Then I write a draft of the whole book. This reveals every hole in my research, from the tiny and specific to the huge and the gaping.

My second round of research is designed to plug those gaps – now I’m looking for answers to specific questions. I start using journal articles and reputable websites and contacting experts until I’m satisfied (or my deadline starts to loom). I go back to my draft, add the new material, and polish the whole thing until it shines. This takes anywhere from three to six rounds of revision.

At last I submit, reward myself with chocolate, and wait for the inevitable request for revision, at which point the cycle starts again!

[See original @ http://www.lecarmichael.ca/tag-youre-it-my-writing-process-blog-tour/ ]

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