Guest post by Diane Weiner, Author of the Susan Wiles Schoolhouse Mysteries
When I finished writing my doctoral dissertation, I never wanted to hear the word “research” again. Writing fiction would be a completely different, freer, type of writing, right? Although I no longer deal with footnotes and APA style, I find myself doing plenty of research. Somewhere out there, is a reader who is also a cop, a nurse, a mechanic… Most of the research I do involves the internet, talking to people, and using information I’ve learned from listening to experts speak at workshops, or reading non-fiction books related to what I’m writing about. Researching for my books is a lot of fun because you learn so many interesting tidbits.
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Here are the top ten things I’ve learned in doing research for my Susan Wiles Schoolhouse Mystery series:
- There is no such thing as blood splatter. It’s blood spatter.
- Claves aren’t strong enough to cause death by blunt force trauma. Gong mallets are
- Police detectives don’t wear uniforms.
- To pull a car from a canal, use a crane attached to a truck.
- There are people in their sixties still searching for birth parents.
- You can’t take fingerprints off of a pen. It’s too small.
- Police departments in small towns don’t necessarily have the ability to process DNA.
- In Florida, you can kill an intruder without penalty if your life is being threatened.
- When someone is falsely imprisoned for committing a crime, most of the time it’s due to inaccurate reports from eyewitnesses.
- Hostage negotiators never put down their guns.
your books. Using a primary source as an expert is great, but if you don’t happen to know an expert, chances are someone you know does. My student teacher, for example, was a great resource. His dad is a police officer, and his mom found out late in life that she was adopted. A quick text and I knew what year the Stand Your Ground Law was enacted. A conversation gave me a feel for how a person might react to meeting a birth parent. My husband is a musician and has colleagues who plays percussion instruments. A quick e-mail, and I had an idea for a murder weapon. Use your creativity not only to write, but also to do your research. Along the way, you’ll have fun and learn some interesting and tidbits.