bradleykirksey wrote: Dr. Borglum.
What's this all about? You hiding your Ph.D from all of us simpletons? I would love to hear your dissertation. Something tells me it would involve Thomas Pynchon, Drive By Truckers, and marathons.
But in all seriousness, quizbowl is nothing but repetition. You really need to immerse yourself in the game when you first start playing in order to soak up all of the things that make up the "canon." As an amorphous, amoebic entity, this "canon" is always changing and will never be agreed upon, but if you want the simplest of foundations, start with these.
The frequency lists on NAQT's website will allow you a small sampling size of what makes up the "canon" and how you should prioritize your studies. If you can learn the major characters, settings, lines, phrases, plots etc of the thing/things on that frequency list, you will be able to get early buzzes and convert difficult bonus parts. Simply looking at the list will do you next-to-no good. Yes, you will be able to get a tossup at the end when given the work or author, but against most collegiate teams these tossups have already been buzzed on.
I managed to get fairly good without writing many questions, but I can tell you from firsthand account that the key to becoming REALLY good is writing questions. There are a lot of people on these forums and in the Florida quizbowl circuit who would be willing to proofread or play test questions you have written.