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Bringing Clarity to Your Writing

Writing is always about bringing clarity to the subject. The more historical research, the greater the clarity a writer can provide. Don't think research should only enable you to dazzle with facts. It should give you the deepest possible understanding of your subject. Historians have an obligation to the written record, not to themselves.

So here's my advice:

  • Be curious. Even if you think you know about something.

  • Be brave. You're entering uncharted territory.

  • Be resolute. Never settle for less than the truth.

  • Be patient. It will all come: your title, content, organization.

History is often about what people did in desperation, in delusion, in error, in malice, in total misunderstanding, in the shallow desire to impress someone, in grievous need. To write history requires writing the truth as perfectly as you can because you are creating a permanent record. The writer who begins the task is not the same one who completes it.

1 Comment

Apr 18

As a kid, I found written history boring; as an adult, I still find written history boring, and often the writers' politics, ignorance, or personal agenda clearly prejudices the truth. Besides that, the "mood of the day" is often overlooked, and events are judged by the present-day political, social, and scientific outlooks. Another problem with realistically reporting history in text format is sensory deprivation of touch, smell, and hearing. Motion pictures at least regain the hearing aspect and augment the sight senses considerably, but touch and smell still prevent a complete immersion into the past events, even if otherwise accurately depicted. Of course, one could argue that all book-learning to which we are subjected in school have the same shortcomi…

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