On Saturday, I did a post on Using Research in Your Book. That post focused on not dumping all your research in the book, no matter how long it took you to do or how much space you used up on your computer storing it all. Especially if that book is fiction.
Today, I’m telling you to do your research. Clearly, if you’re writing about a process or equipment you know nothing about, you’re going to have to research. We’re not all born with a knowledge of guns and their kickback or how to use them. Some of us have never been in a strip club. Some have never ridden in a subway. And, yet, one or more of those things (and others) may be used or done by a character. So you have to research.
Sometimes you even have to research things you know. Or think you know. It’s better not to assume you know.
Here’s an example. From me. It’s something I knew. I did not have to research my theory because I knew it.
My husband and I went to the Dallas area to visit a friend (Bobby). We stayed at his house. In the morning, he and my husband went to play golf (on the course where said friend lives). I slept in. (Nice.) When I got up, I moseyed into the kitchen and turned on the coffee pot. Then I stood in the kitchen, sipped coffee, and watched the golfers on the green at the back of the house. Some were clearly good golfers. Some not, but no one hooked the ball through the window. (Also nice.) I wondered whether I’d spot my husband and Bobby. Then, lo and behold, I did. There they were, on the green, with two other golfers. Bobby turned and waved at me and motioned for me to come out.
Now, that’s not the end of my story, but it’s enough to tell you that I should have done some research. I had made an assumption. A wrong assumption.
I AssUMed that since the golfers were outside in the bright sunlight and I was in the darkened kitchen, I could see them and they could not see me. I AssUMed wrong.
Not only was I wrong, I was in my pajama shirt. Cup halfway to my mouth. Quietly backing up behind a kitchen counter.
Sometimes even what you know needs to be verified.
5 months ago