Useless information — or a goldmine?

Have you ever been writing and suddenly realize “Hey, I don’t know much about this subject” and stop to look up something?

As writers, we often find ourselves scrolling the Internet or running to the library to get the details we need to make  scene read realistically. Or we may talk to an expert. I remember one time going to a pawn shop and asking to hold an automatic rifle so I could describe it in my story. I never published the book, but by golly if I had, no one could argue with my description.

But sometimes information is handed to us and we don’t know quite where to put it. I attend numerous workshops and not all are related to what I write. But I take notes anyway, because you never know. For example a few years ago I was at a workshop on how to write realistic fight scenes. I remember thinking, “I’ll never use this.” You guessed it. A fight scene was critical in my next book, and when I dug out my notes I was glad I had saved them. I also have notes from a workshop on hostage negotiation. I have a sneaking suspicion I may use elements of this information.

Saturday, the workshop at the monthly Carolina Romance Writers was about a S.W.A.T. (Special Weapons and Tactics) team and the men who chose to serve in such a dangerous job. The workshop leader geared his talk to romance writers and the Alpha Hero. Will I ever write a book about a man who puts his job above family, who has learned to subdue his fears and emotions, and whose first loyalty to his brothers? Probably not. But I could write a book with a hero who has at least some of those qualities. So I tucked the information away until that time comes.

It’s annoying to have to stop in the middle of writing a scene and look up a fact or description. But it’s pure heaven when you are writing a scene and you have those facts that you filed away, never thinking you’d need them, right at your fingertips.



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