As you have now chosen your author it is time to begin your research.
All sources are not equal. You want reliable sources. You want to read material pertaining to your subject which is reliably accurate, intelligent, and written for thoughtful, intelligent readers.
*reliable encyclopedias, like the Encyclopedia Britannica (tends to have very high-quality articles on subjects, and a high level of reliability, even among encyclopedias)
*reliable books, by authors who are experts in the field. You don't want sensationalism. Straight facts may be boring, but that's what you're looking for.
*reliable articles, in print journals or the internet, by authors who are experts in the field.
Ask Mum for help.
*What, Exactly, Am I Looking For?
Remember the paper is divided into three sections, you're looking for information pertaining to those: biography, literary career, and exposition,(explanation) of some examples from that literary writer.
You want facts about your writer's life.
You want facts about his or her writing career, including what kinds of literature he or she produced and an overview of everything he or she wrote.
Finally, you want to locate a novel or other prose work, or a fairly generous group of poems to read, plus some of what we call "criticism," which doesn't mean information about whether the works are good or bad, but simply articles or books which discuss what's going on in those works
*How Can I Organize the Material I find?
Notecards. (See Mum)
1. A pack of index cards. The multicoloured ones; pink, yellow, blue, green, etc. If you have all-white ones, label them: a pile for "biography," a pile for "career," and a pile for "poems/novel/etc." You want your cards to be coded so that once you have gathered information and written it down on them, you can divide them according to the sections of your paper.
2. As you research and you come across a passage in a book, article, or whatever that you think you could use in your paper, COPY IT DOWN VERBATIM on one side of an index card. No piece of information should be so large that it takes up more than one card. At most, you want 3-4 sentences. But copy it EXACTLY in the author's words. On the other side of the card, write down the source from which you took the passage, in THIS EXACT FORMAT:
Author's last name, Author's first name. Book Title, Underlined. Where Published: Publisher, copyright date. Page number/s.
If you've taken the quotation from a magazine, a book chapter, or an encyclopedia entry, do it like this:
Last name, First name. "Title of Article, Chapter, or Entry." Book or Magazine Title, Underlined. then publication info and page numbers as above.
Essentially, when you go to make a Works Cited page for your final paper, all you'll have to do is copy the information straight off your cards.
Take the time to provide all the information I've just described on EACH notecard. It may seem a pain but as you are not going to remember where you got every piece of information you wrote down, and since you DO have to tell me where every piece of information comes from, obviously going back through all those books, articles and websites would be an even bigger pain. Do it right, pay attention to details, and you will be rewarded.
*MUCH thanks to Sally once again for her generosity:)