I got my license driving a big articulated truck, called a semi-trailer in Australia, it had 16 gears and a thirty foot trailer on it, I’ve ridden my own motorbike across Australia – it was a Kawasaki – beautiful machine – I’ve learned to fly an ultralight plane, worked up through grades in martials arts (and taught it), have undertaken a survival course and even committed to doing the pioneering thing, but I have never been a police officer, a soldier or a doctor.
So I research, I read biographies of police officers, soldiers, doctors and others. I read technical manuals pertaining to their professions. I get right into the nuts and bolts of it, and you know what? It’s fun. I seriously love getting into the technical side of things, finding the gems that every profession has, the interesting snippets that a person doesn’t normally know about but which brings the character and the profession to life for my readers.
There’s a lot of things a writer can do in order to write with clarity and precision, but basically it boils down to hands-on experience and research.
If you want realism in your stories, know your stuff – if you want in-depth, know your stuff – if you want the sort of detail that will put your readers right into the action – it’s very simple – Know Your Stuff. Even the mundane!
Oh yes, and have fun while you’re doing it. That’s important, too.