1. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    Do you search?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by NaCl, Apr 23, 2009.

    If I want to know about writing a good query letter, what should I do next?

    Let's see: I can search this website for query letters.
    Result: Wow! 69 hits, including several lengthy threads on the subject.

    Now I'll try Google: search under "query letters"
    Result: geez...16,000,000 hits in .18 seconds. Maybe I should refine the question? I'll try "query letter samples"
    Result: Ouch. Just over 1 million hits in .34 seconds. That's too much for me to digest, so I think I'll just be lazy and ask the nice people on WF.org how to write a good query letter.

    Ironically, when such a question is posed, most respondents "guess" at how to format a query letter while a few knowledgeable site members refer the OP back to...yep...Google. Or they might offer the same links that came up in the first page of the original Google search.

    Is there a point to this commentary? Yes. Writers MUST be proficient in research if they hope to succeed in writing. Don't learn complacency or become lazy because it's so easy to throw out a quickie question in here. You're only hurting yourself when you do not use the research tools at your fingertips.

    There have been many excellent threads on every imaginable topic in this site. Yet, I see the same old questions asked time and again. Next time you have a general question, use the search button before you post. Otherwise, you may be missing out on some real gems that are buried deep in the archives and you're not developing the research skill that might propel you to the top.
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Well, I do searches almost by reflex. My time at college honed my search skills, plus I've had to become a proficient researcher for work.

    I agree that web searching is an essential writer's skill. So is book research. In my first college, te Internet did not exist. I spent hours with card catalogs, and in the stacks, and staring into microfiche viewers of periodicals.

    I've always been a sponge for information, and that obsession has proven very valuable over the years.

    I keep pounding home the point of using multiple sources. I am never satisfied with one source of information when I'm searching. I have learned from long experience that the first source I find is not necessarily the best or most accurate. In many cases the first source is absolutely wrong.
     
  3. Nervous1st
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    Nervous1st Senior Member

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    I know what you mean and I do make it a habit (most of the time) to search both google and this website....

    But can I just say, whilst past threads are helpful, it does nothing to promote social interaction with current members. Not all of us are here just to ask questions, I enjoy posting and replying to threads to help build relationships with other members.

    Please don't make people feel like they're stupid for asking questions, that's already hard enough for some people to do.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    That's a good point, and I try not to do that. But at the same time, if I or another member can get other people to use the reesearch tools that are literally at their fingertips, isn't that worthwhile? You know, like teaching someone to fish isntead of handing them a Fillet-O-Fish sandwich.

    Thre really are a lot of questions in which a responder could:
    1. Guess
    2. Look it up and play the Answer Guru (what an ego rush)
    3. Give a partial answer AND the search strategy used to find it

    I'm not referring to answers where the responders own experience and opinions are supplying a meaningful answer, but rather requests for general informatin that is pretty much a shot in the dark (like asking a writing group what they can tell them about daily life in Somalia).

    As for past threads, social interaction is one thing, but some topics gte started over every few weeks or months, and a quick search can avoid having to rehash the same points over anbd over. Besides, the older thhreads may well contain good answers that don;t come up again because everyone who participated before is tired of going over the same discussion.
     
  5. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    Quite the contrary...good research skills are essential to effective writing. The goal of this thread is to encourage fellow aspiring writers to develop good habits that will lead to better writing.

    As far as the socialization gained from such discussion, I think some members should learn that good research often creates more questions, usually of a specific, instead of general, nature. Plus, there's not much "social interaction" associated with cut'n paste responses to commonly repeated questions. But questions that come up after such research are far more interesting, fun and beneficial to discuss.
     
  6. lynneandlynn
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    lynneandlynn Contributing Member

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    You make a good point. A lot of the times people ask questions, other will respond in such a way to make the person asking feel stupid. Which isn't nice or productive whatsoever.

    To the OP: I have absolutely no idea how to format a query letter. I'd suggest asking mammamaia as she has a fairly large repertoire of experience with this sort of thing.

    On another note, some of the questions people ask (not here, but other sites I've been on) make you go "why are you even posting this?" because I've seen questions like, "how do you boil a potato?" and a simple google search would've returned the answer they needed in the few seconds it took them to post the question on a forum. I think sometimes its knowing which questions are appropriate for forums and which ones are appropriate to find for yourself through a search engine is an important thing to get a handle on. (For everyone, not just writers)

    ~Lynn
     
  7. Nervous1st
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    Nervous1st Senior Member

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    Yes, I see your point here and I agree. If everyone was better researched, our discussion topics would be more in depth and therefore beneficial.

    ETA: 'Better researched'. Nice.
     
  8. lynneandlynn
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    lynneandlynn Contributing Member

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    Too bad not everyone feels that research is as important as some as us do.. ><

    ~Lynn
     
  9. Okie
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    Okie Member

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    Is it weird to admit that I get sucked into google searches, wikipedia, random websites and forums, spending hours reading content and clicking links?
    It's like once I start, I don't stop, and in the end I forget what I was searching about to begin with.
     
  10. Okie
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    Okie Member

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    There was this game I used to play with some friends for a while.
    You get two topics and go to wikipedia, then you start clicking and note the path it took you to get from topic A to topic B, send in, and compare notes afterwards. Was kind of fun to see how other people get around wikipedia.
     
  11. Dcoin
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    Dcoin Contributing Member

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    Let’s face it, all forums are more about entertainment than pure research. If we were to only ask new questions, eventually the community would cease to exist and be replaced by a data-base.
     
  12. Okie
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    Okie Member

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    True, Dcoin. I like the interaction on forums.

    I'll tell you right now though, most forums out there aren't as welcoming as this one. I'm still pretty new here myself. But as soon as I stepped through the proverbial door, people were nice enough to talk to me.

    I tend to have a hard time with meeting strangers, whether thats online or out there in the real world. People are people, and if I don't know them, they are not to be trusted. So when I came across this particular forum, I was pleasantly surprised how civil everyone is behaving, especially considering how everything else on the internet now seems to be all about rude.

    I'm sure, as time goes by, I will be asking a stupid question. Everyone does it at some point. So when I do, I can rest easy knowing WF isn't going to rip my head off for being too blonde. (you google blonde, there's a picture of me, putting a lightbulb out with a hammer, and shining a flashlight on it to see if it's out.)
     

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