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Tierney James, Author

Lipstick & Danger

Sounding Like An Expert

Posted on Apr 28, 2014 by   No Comments Yet | Posted in Uncategorized
Do you sound like an expert when you write about mysteries, faraway places or scientific discoveries? Can your words flow like a river, page after page, as you carry your characters and more importantly, your readers, to new worlds of adventure? How about your skill level? After escaping a forest fire you’re captured by a Libyan terrorist. You escape, only to slip off a catwalk and dangle by one hand, fifty feet in the air. You are rescued. The end.

Boring.

Being an expert when you write means you have to dig for facts, study the possibilities, explore your options. Showing how you get from point A to point B is half the fun for the reader. “Show don’t tell,” is a favorite bit of advice given by the sages of the written word. You’ve also got to experience the action yourself to some degree. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel. When I do, I keep a detailed journal of the five senses around me. (sight, sound, taste, smell, touch) My time living on a Cherokee Reservation, where I was a minority, opened my eyes to the world. Being an educator, for me, was like setting a kid lose in a candy store; Space Camp for Educators, Solar System Ambassador for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, China Workshops were some of the adventures at my fingertips. Believe me I took advantage of everything.

Writing thrillers gave me opportunities to move into other areas. I became certified in certain weapons. I took Tai Chi and Tae Kwan Do as well as a self defense class. Some of my characters use what I learned. They are amazing even though I was really never good at it. I read books on police procedure and lethal weapons. Then there is the book, Deadly Doses that tell you everything you need to know about poisons. Watching the expression on my husband’s face when he sees it laying on the coffee table is priceless. Thankfully he is a mine engineer so when I need my characters to blow something up or cave it in, he is my go to guy.

“Read what you like to write.” That is very good advice. But you have to do the homework too. When I got my characters caught in a forest fire I had to do research in order to find out the possibilities of escape. I used the book Worst Case Scenario. That Libyan terrorist I mentioned earlier had a deep grudge against the Russians. I had to figure out a way to tie them together. I chose medical isotopes. Guess what? I had to educate myself on isotopes. Even though my character was rescued from falling off the catwalk she suffered a dislocated shoulder. I fixed her up in short order so she could live to fight another day! ( or in case, create chaos)

No matter what you write, you need to sound like an expert. These are a few of the things I use.

National Geographic       The Cosmos: A Space Odyssey          PBS                Discovery Channel
Time Magazine                Language Books                                Atlas/Maps      Travel Books
Kids Books on topics (makes it easier to understand)
Guns and Ammo
Lots of Writer’s Digest “How to” books.

Be the first to comment on "Sounding Like An Expert"

  1. Comment by Wanda Kay
    April 28, 2014 4:47 pm

    I hate research. That's why I write romance. The only research I really need is if my characters have a strange job. It's good that you try to achieve accuracy in your writing.

  2. Comment by Cara Bristol
    April 30, 2014 12:42 pm

    Some people love research, others don't. I write first, then research when I hit a road block.


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