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Research Guides

INI102: Telling the Stories of the City: Writing Creative Non-Fiction

Keywords Matter

Ask yourself three questions:

  1. What is my topic?
  2. What are the key aspects of this topic?
  3. What are alternate keywords for each aspect?

Brainstorm keywords to use in your search. Pick words that represent each key aspect of your topic (see below for an example).

This process can be challenging. The same idea can be expressed in many ways. To ensure the best results when searching, brainstorm several keywords whenever possible.

Choose Keywords

List keywords that relate each concept in your research (use a thesaurus, course readings, or lecture notes for ideas).

Use Subject Headings as Keywords (Writing & Authorship)

With so much content tied to literary and narrative criticism, it can sometime be hard to find resources focused on helping one hone and expand their writing skills. You may need to adapt your choice of keywords based on the discipline or subject headings that you see amongst your search results.  

Subject headings are similar to tags or hashtags. They describe the topic of an item in a database, but unlike tags they come from an official, standardized set of terms and are assigned by cataloguing experts. 

  1. Go to UTL LibrarySearch Advanced Search
  2. Choose Subject from the Search Field drop-down menu on the left. 
  3. Enter any of the Subject Headings found below exactly as it appears in the Search Box 
    • Use quotation marks ("Motion Pictures", "Motion pictures -- Aesthetics") or change the drop down menu to is (exact) to search for that spelling.
  4. Press Enter or click on the Search button in bottom right corner.  

Subject Headings for Different Types of Writing

  • Writing
  • Writers
  • Authorship
  • Creative Writing
  • Creative nonfiction
  • Online Authorship
  • Fiction -- Authorship
  • Poetry -- Authorship
  • Characters and Characteristics
  • Narratives OR Narration
  • Narration Rhetoric
  • Plots, Themes, Etc. 
  • Technique
  • Creative Writing Technique
  • Fiction Technique
  • Storytelling 
  • Digtial Storytelling
  • Motion Picture Authorship
  • Characters and Characteristics in Motion Pictures
  • Television Authorship
  • Screenplays
  • Screenwriters
  • Women Screenwriters
  • African American Screenwriters
  • African American Women Screenwriters
  • Screen Writers' Guild

For additional search tips for subject headings: 


Use Relevant Resources to Find Keywords

Keyword searching is essentially taking your best guess at the terms which will appear in articles that are about your topic.  This can be a very effective way of searching.  However, you may get a number of irrelevant results because the keywords you chose may appear in irrelevant articles.  You also never know if you've found all the article on your topic. 

Tip: The next time you're using a library catalogue/database or looking at a book or article, take note of the author defined keywords or keywords and subject headings used then try using those terms in your next search.