Sounding Like An Expert
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.