I have written a few books, most of them involving crimes such as murder and kidnapping. There’s never any sunshine and puppy dogs in my work and I get antsy if I can’t kill off a character. My 7-year-old son wants to read my books, of course I say no, totally inappropriate for your age bracket kid. But the other day, I was typing away, not paying any attention to anything but my work in progress when suddenly a little voice screams into my ear “swear word!” I very nearly had a heart attack. I quickly scanned the page, yup there was a swear word alright, plus a death scene. So how much had my little munchkin read? I quickly closed the laptop and asked what he’d seen.
“I can’t tell you,” he whispered, “it’s a swear word.”
“Read anything else?” I asked.
Thankfully not and there were no nightmares about screwdrivers being plunged anywhere. But I think the moral of this story is, always make sure you know where your kids are when you are writing!
Most stories require some degree of research, whether you’re writing a biography or making up a fantasy world or writing a mystery novel, research will help you build your book and round it out.
I am working on my latest crime novel, What Lies Beneath Us and I must admit, I’ve done a fair amount of research for this one. First of all, I have had to familiarise myself with police procedures in general and some specific to Victoria, Australia. I have also had some questions answered by a wonderful police officer who availed themselves to me and my numerous questions, giving me direction and insight into being a police officer and just what it is that they do.
I’ve also included several scenes where autopsies have taken place, which has required in depth research about procedures and the way autopsies are conducted in Victoria. I had help from a very lovely gentleman who gave me some extremely helpful advice.
My philosophy is, if you don’t ask, you’ll never know. If you need help with certain aspects of your story, then go ahead and ask. The worst they can do is say no, they might even say yes!
While having expert help in the field is great, you still need to know what questions to ask in the in the first place. This is where the research comes in. You need to research your autopsy procedures, or whatever you’re writing about, so you have a basic understanding about your subject matter, so you can ask the specialist questions that maybe Google can’t answer but a professional can.
So go on, get stuck into your research. It will make for a more cohesive book, one that your readers can really sink their teeth into.