Sunday, September 7, 2014

Sounding Authentic

Building a resource list can be half the fun of writing. Do you have one? As a productive writer it makes sense to start one. I write action/romantic/thrillers. Sometimes it involves science and geography. That "stuff" doesn't just pop into my head as I write. The importance of sounding authentic should resonate throughout your story. Sometimes my heroine kicks the stuffing out of the bad guy or needs to give the President of the United States a blood transfusion. Since I'm not likely to be a guest on "Cage Fighter Nationals" and none of my education degrees or certifications allow me to start a transfusion (I have been known to faint at the sight of blood or a needle.) then I need to depend on others to assist me in taking the reader into believable action.

NOTEBOOKS
1. Keep one on your WIP to keep facts, characteristics of people and ideas straight.
2. Keep one on people who can and will help you research.
3. Keep a small notebook in your purse, car or briefcase for possible descriptions you'll need. When my mother had surgery a few years ago I took my notebook out to write while I waited. I described everything my 5 senses could detect. Hushed voices, beeping, doors closing, hard chairs, stale coffee, laughter and tears all helped me envision a scene. The sound of a hall polisher might be the detail that makes your scene real.

PEOPLE RESOURCES #2 from above
Astonished at the number of people who stepped up to help me with little details in my writing not only delighted me but led to new connections and fans.I was also surprised at how talented these people were around me.  Here are a few I've collected over the last two years.

1. ER nurse/ nurse practitioner - She helped me with that transfusion then snap a spiral cord.
2. Computer genius that takes care of my lap top - He lets me know if my tech guy in the story can actually accomplish a task with his government computer.
3. Psychologist in Washington D.C.  - She helps me with PTSD problems my characters suffer then proceeds to fix them through a character I created to do that. There have been times she told me where to park a car to observe a particular situation I need for the hero to monitor.
4. Cross dresser - Do I really need to explain that one?
5. Fireman - I haven't actually used him yet. I just wanted him. ha
6. IRS Agents - Yes, some are very willing to help you. I have two.
7. Engineers - Chemical, mining, civil, mechanical and electrical engineers are part of my crew.
8. Weapons - I live in Missouri. I don't have to go far to get this.
9. Conference Guests - At Killer Nashville I met Black Ops to Hostage Negotiators who are very willing to help writers. Get chummy with these people. They are great!
10. Handbag designer - She even throws in some goodies for my giveaways.
11. NFL Cheerleader
12. Large hotel manager - It is amazing at the information this guy has funneled my way. He showed me ghosts and other mysteries that will appear in a future novel. I even get a free room once in a while.
13, Soldiers - One of my former students told me more about Afghanistan than I could have ever gotten out of a book. I needed that information to write a number of scenes in Rooftop Angels.
14, Lawyers (I have a former prosecuting attorney) and judges ( What can I say? I had his kid in school.)
15. Politicians - Working in several campaigns I've met the good, the bad and the ugly. But all are great resources for a future novel.
16. Ministers, nail techs, stylists, teachers, artists, doctors, police, paramedics. The list is growing.

THE WRITTEN WORD
I still rely on the web, writing and resource books, the library, television programs, the news (not just one channel) magazines and newspapers. Some things get printed off and stored in a folder so I can keep going back to check facts. Others things get stored in a file for future work.

WORKSHOPS
I cannot stress this enough! Learn how to do what you're writing about or risk sounding like an amateur.
Fight scenes - learn how to fight.
Weapons - learn how to shoot. I recently took a Japanese Samurai Sword class. I wore a silly grin on my face for days!
Language - I took a Hebrew class when I thought one of my characters would be a Biblical Archaeologist.
Whatever the problem, experience it to find out little things that add flavor and depth to your story.













7 comments:

  1. Great information. I will put it to good use.

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  2. Great ideas! I like the one about gathering people who can help you with research.

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  3. I'm impressed by how many people you interviewed. And I LOVE the idea of learning to do the things you're writing about. Samurai Sword Fighting class? Awesome!

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  4. The Samurai Sword Fighting class sounds awesome! I really like the idea of experiencing some of the things we write about. I need to find someone who speaks Mayan and a historian of Central Mexico.

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    1. Try the university for help. Geography, cultural studies, archaeology and language departments can point you in the right direction.

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  5. You have an interesting collection of friends. I think you have a point, though. A writer needs to be knowledgeable in a lot of things.

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    1. Just enlisted some home security people today to help me out. So they are on the list. The list is growing and YES. I have very interesting friends. I bet most writers do and aren't aware of the fascinating people in their lives.

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