Sunday, November 13, 2011

HASA How-tos November 2011

This month we look at Resources – what are they, and how can you best use them?

What is Resources?

This is an area to provide resources to writers, but it has plenty of tidbits that may interest the curious non-author as well; you can find information to help you write your stories, contribute information you know, or simply learn more about the Tolkien universe.

The heart of Resources is the Research Library. There are detailed write ups on people, places, things and the events that tie them all together. All of this is painstakingly researched and cross-referenced.

There is also a URL library linking to sites of interest to the JRRT fandom. There are research articles and critical essays written by our members, and a discussion forum on wide ranging topics.

What is the Reference Library?

The Reference Library is designed to gather the facts about various subjects in one easily searchable area. It currently consists of Character Biographies, Events, Places, and Things. Each entry is referenced to a quote in Tolkien, so the member may refer to the original source. Members who are authors can link their stories to any of the Research Library entries.

The Reference Library is one of the best, most engaging parts of HASA. Just start clicking on its links, and then following those links to other entries, and following an interesting reference to another page, and then another, and then... before you know it, hours have gone by.

What are the Character Biographies?

All the listed characters have simple fact sheets, containing very basic information such as date of birth and death when known, close relatives, and physical description.

For some characters the fact sheets are a starting point, in contrast to some of the minor characters where the fact sheets contain everything that is known.

A number of fact sheets are associated with essays that are more detailed, and which may contain speculation supported by references.

Essays on characters are very welcome, some subjects of interest to many members would be: relationships between characters, discussion of controversies about characters, and speculation on gaps in information.

There are also separate Research Articles which contain chapters on Minor Canon Characters which are not listed in the Character biography section.

What are the Timeline Events?

You can look them up alphabetically, by event type, by era and by date range. They are presented in chronological order, and are cross-referenced to other research library entries.

If you want to know exactly who did what, when, where and how, timeline events can probably provide the answer.

What are Places?

Places contains information on locations mentioned by Tolkien, whether in the text or on the maps he drew. Our goal is detailed information on the complete list of places, with accompanying references.

Currently there are over 650 entries in Places.

What are Things?

The Things section contains detailed information on various objects, from the physical such as ships or weapons, to songs, to constructs such as the White Council. It is the most heterogenous part of the Research Library.

What is the URL Library?

The URL Library is a collection of web page links, organized by general categories, covering both Tolkien's works and other topics of general interest to HASA members. Members are encouraged to submit interesting links.

What are the Research Articles and Critical Essays?

These are non-fiction works about a particular subject useful to fanfic writers or reviewers, or to those who simply want to know more. Current articles and essays range from personality traits of horses to in-depth character studies to geopolitics. Any subject involving Tolkien's writing, fanfic, or life in Middle-earth or the West is fair game.

Who writes the Research Articles and Critical Essays?

HASA members write them.

Many authors have done research in preparation for a story and then contribute their knowledge in the form of an article or Reference Library entry. There are several articles posted and HASA is always eager to expand the section. If you write a reaserch article or a critical essay, please link it into Resources by going to the Articles & Essays pages.

What kind of searches can I do?

A-Z Index - This part of the site provides alphabetical lists of all the Research Library entries. Each kind of research item (People, Places, Things, Events) also has alphabetical listings.

Full text search - This takes a little more practice. This search can do complex Boolean free text search of the contents of all the research library entries.

Each library entry type has a search available to sort, slice and dice on its main categories for quick filtering of entries.

What is the Resources Forum?

This is the gathering place for the Resources geeks and anyone who wants to pick their brains.

You can discuss just about anything to do with Tolkien's works, what life might have been like in Middle-earth, or the intricacies of writing about it. Geography, character speculation, daily life, grammar, economics... You think it up, someone will probably want to discuss it.

Many discussions start as research questions. This is the place to ask questions, and bring your expertise to answer others. This is also a place to discuss the nuts and bolts of writing, beta reading, and associated issues.

If there is any topic you’d like to see in the how-to, please let us know!

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