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Navigating the Digital World: A Christian Author's Guide to Using the Internet

14/04/2024

In our 21st-century world, it’s very difficult to contemplate what the world was like before the arrival of the Internet. How did writers do their research? Going to physical libraries? There, too, they would have verified their facts. Or maybe some of them had huge tomes at home, like the complete Encyclopaedia Britannica in goodness knows how many volumes. How did they connect with other authors, readers, and publishers? By phoning them or using snail mail, I’m assuming. And where did they find new opportunities? By chance, meeting on a street corner? In a supermarket? At the school gate?

In this blog, I will restrict myself to talking about three, albeit rather obvious, uses of the Internet for Authors. Nothing new in the zoo!! But it’s good to be reminded of these things.

1. Research

Mega-articles, blogs, books on almost any topic under the sun! You don’t have to search very far to find just the information you’re looking for. And just the fact that you were trying to check up on it. Or just the data to prove what you were trying to say. You’re writing a historical novel, and you want to find out about the costumes of the time. Boom-bang – all the information you need is right there on Mrs Google. You’re setting your adult thriller in a foreign country you’ve only visited once, and you need to check on some facts about restaurants and street names in a particular city. Voila! There it all is. Right in front of your very eyes, including maps. Your biography about a scientist has some statistics you need to check. Hooray. You’ve found just the graph you need, including a detailed explanation of the significance of the data.

How wonderfully useful the internet is for checking up on your facts, fleshing out the details in your book, finding more information about a place and being inspired by many different examples.

A word of caution

Of course, like any good researcher, you’ll have to ask yourself questions about the source of the information in the article, blog, or snippet. Much of the information you’ll find on the net is written from one particular point of view, so you do have to be discerning when scouring through the net. You also have to be careful of plagiarising. Just because it’s not a ‘book’ you’re copying from, it doesn’t mean that you won’t get into trouble for taking chunks of information and using word for word in your next book. Please don’t go there!! It’s definitely not worth it.

2. Connections and Opportunities

Being a member of the older generation myself, I feel totally inadequate writing about this topic. So I’ll be very brief! In any case, I’m sure that in the next couple of years, all the platforms people use now will already be outdated!! But of course, your personal website, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, email lists and so on are useful ways of connecting with other authors, readers, publishers and the general public. Many authors use these platforms and opportunities to great advantage.

3. Tutorials and Lessons

If you want to learn how to do anything, the internet is your oyster. Tutorials a-plenty about any topic under the sun, including the ones relevant to writing skills:

  • How to write a book
  • How to write non-fiction in six easy steps!
  • How to write an adult novel
  • How to write YA fiction…and so on….

I have to smile because some of the blogs I’ve been writing cover similar topics.

              But my advice, in a nutshell, is: use the internet with discernment, sift out the unnecessary, keep what might be useful to you, and never take shortcuts on research. It might, after all, be advisable to visit your local library – to check on the facts you gleaned from the internet!! How ironic is that?

Enjoy the benefits of using the internet.

And most of all, happy writing.

Breath of God by Gillian Leggat
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