A compilation of four writers' checklists written for SRW Bridges--
Research & Interviewing, Making Time to Write,
Creativity & Inspiration, Writing Sex
by Lesley-Anne McLeod


Checklist for Research & Interviewing

- primary sources of information are always best to use, but they are not always available. Ensure that the secondary sources you use are reputable and reliable.

- a good rule of thumb: consult print materials first (to get you started), internet second (to refine and define), and then real, live people if possible.

- use non-traditional sources; travel agents, shop owners, relatives (!), your local health clinic's reading room or your lawyer's library. Think outside the box.

- don't forget interlibrary loan for hard to find materials; also library microfiche and microfilm holdings can be a valuable resource.

- provincial archives, land titles offices, city records and the library's local history room have a wealth of background material to use and dozens of stories waiting to be told.

- many authorities on many subjects are now accessible via email. Send them an inquiry. Most are pleased to help; the worst that can happen is nothing--no reply.

- your research will never be 'perfect'. You can only do your best and be prepared that some reader, somewhere, will find your mistakes--and tell you about them.

- don't hesitate to make use of an 'Author's Note' for any historical or setting detail that you may have changed from the true and real. It is valid occasionally to do so, but you should note your reasons.


Checklist (with tongue firmly in cheek) on
Making Time to Write

1.  Close your Web Browser; leave it CLOSED.

2.  Choose a boring place of employment, and a position of repetitious work. 
Your creativity can be indulged while your hands do the tedious work.

3.  Keep paper and pencil or laptop available at ALL times, in ALL situations.

4.  Close your Web Browser; leave it CLOSED.

5. Ensure that your husband is busy with chores--very busy.

6. Ensure that your children are well cared for--far away from you.

7.  Close your Web Browser; leave it CLOSED.

8.  Hire Molly Maid, charge as business expense against future earnings.

9.  Hire-a-Student for all chores that husband can't perform; charge as above.

10. Close your Web Browser; leave it CLOSED.

11. Leave email unanswered; close email program.

12. Complete your SRW assignments; ignore all others.

13. Close your Web Browser; leave it CLOSED.

14. Enjoy the summer sun, through the window by your desk.

15. Ignore your TBR (To Be Read) pile.


(tongue removed from cheek)

17. Do what you can, when you can--no recriminations, no regrets.  Be good to yourself.


Creativity and Inspiration Checklist

Creativity and inspiration can be considered separate entities although they are synonyms for the process that feeds writers.

I have a strong feeling that creativity is nurtured by the senses.  Stimulate the five senses and feel your creativity blossom:

1. Sight -- be adventurous with lighting; use candles, coloured lampshades, a pretty desk lamp
2. Sound -- listen to music appropriate to your genre (contemporary, historical) and the mood of your book
3. Touch -- use tactile fabrics for cushions or a cloth on your desk and rich papers for notes and research
4. Taste -- enjoy a specialty dish from the setting of your work or perhaps a glass of imported wine. Chocolate is always stimulating
5. Smell -- create an aromatic aura with incense or simmering scent pots, sachets or flowers

I approach inspiration as a more thought-provoking experience than a tactile one. To stimulate ideas, try:

- listening to talk radio or CBC
- reading newspapers, particularly ones from other cities--or countries
- reading non-fiction books on people, places, and careers or philosophy, time and space
- picking a key word and searching the Internet for it. 'Firefighter' will take you interesting places, so will 'Georgian' or 'disaster'.

Nurture yourself and your mind and creativity and inspiration will follow.


Checklist for Writing Sex

- educate yourself about the different kinds of writing about sexual love; i.e. sweet romance, sensual romance, romantica, erotica, etc.

- ensure that you choose the appropriate level of sensuality for the line or publisher you are targeting.

- ensure that love scenes are integral part of the plot and situation. No gratuitous sex!

- emotion, particularly love, is (usually) essential in writing about sex.

- avoid mechanics -- no 'tab A, slot B' type of description.

- avoid cliches - throbbing manhood, pebbled nipples, silken skin, etc. etc. Build your own sensual voice; a good thesaurus might help.

- begin the connection, build the sexual tension, from the moment h/h meet. Only then will the physical details be believable.

- talk can be sexy too; make your h/h's dialogue part of the action.

- don't forget to involve all of the five senses.

- make sure that any innovations you create are physically possible!


© Lesley-Anne McLeod 2004
Permission granted for personal use only. Email request for other permission.