I have a great deal of fun researching the details in my stories – The type of thing that only someone “in the know” would realize, someone actually there with that training or that experience.
When you read about a character loading a clip and learn that getting that last bullet in can be a real bitch against a new spring, it puts you there, experiencing something in your imagination that you would never have known, unless you’d actually done it. It makes perfect sense, and it pulls you right inside the story.
Some people leave the last bullet out – Now there’s a story waiting to happen, a game-changer because that last bullet wasn’t there… or because it was, the shooter pushed beyond that resistance and for the first time used a fully loaded clip. There’s tension in that one – did they or didn’t they?
The big stuff is important in a story, of course it is, but it’s the little stuff that brings it home and makes it real. That’s the stuff I love. That’s the stuff that excites me. It’s the stuff on a human level that I didn’t know at all until I looked it up or got hands-on.
Broken jaws – one of those topics that is ripe for assumption. We’ve all read the books or seen the movies where jaws are wired shut while the broken jaw heals. I’ve seen that mistake made in modern books simply because the writers made assumption or didn’t think to check.
That’s right, broken jaws are not treated like that anymore. Wiring a mouth shut is hugely unhygienic and unpleasant. You’re looking at six weeks. Can you imagine? No, let’s not go there. The modern method is to put metal strips in against the bone, holding it rigid and allowing for immediate jaw mobility. They’ve been doing that since the mid or late 1980s. I looked at the X-rays and read up on the technique. I love it when I find this stuff!
And the Hydroxyapatite implant? Get this. It’s a prosthetic eye and it is made from reef coral, coated with sclera to make it smooth – perfect for being both lightweight and porous. That material allows the muscles, blood vessels and nerves to attach to it, making it permanently set in place and able to move naturally. It becomes, in effect, part of the body.
Did I know that before I looked it up? Heck no! I love that! How ingenious the human animal is!
It’s the detail that does it. It’s the hands-on feel to a story that I love. Facts and figures that mainly only specialists know. That’s where research comes into its own. That’s how a story lives and breathes.
And yes, I research everything I write about. I even get hands-on when I can. It really puts me into a character’s shoes where I notice things that shouldn’t be left out and that make the story… well, real.
Happy researching your thing of choice. Have fun finding those little gems!