Thursday, May 20, 2010

CSI: Medina

So yesterday I wrote the scene where Len finds the body, and today was supposed to be the day that I organized the next phase of research - picked the next specific queries I needed to answer, used the contacts I've gotten to find them out - and, oh yeah, worked on the tax ledger. That's one of those jobs like putting away the laundry that's easier to put off than do until one day you turn around and say: "This is ridiculous" and just do it.

However, first I had to be chauffeur at my husband's eye appointment, followed by getting comics. He had to have the drops in his eyes and the eye doctor isn't on a bus route. (I mean, c'mon, that should be a no-brainer - you shouldn't blind somebody and then turn him loose on the road.) In the waiting room I read Gary Paulson's Woods Runner, which has technical information inserted between the chapters, like how a Brown Bess musket worked. I won't spoil the story for you, but at one point I thought: "Oh, rats, what about rigor? She can't get him onto Bean at all if he's stiff."

So after we got home I hit the books. We have shocking numbers of books on forensics and true crime. To be fair, not nearly as many as we have on Forteana or history or archeology; but more than we have on architecture or engineering. Way more than we have on heraldry. About as many as we have on cooking and gardening. And of course it overlaps with the medical stuff.

We buy non-fiction based partly on interest, but also partly on the "hey, we know nothing about this" factor. Cheesemaking? Sure. Weapons of ancient Japan? Why not? The history of glassblowing? Cool. Between the role-playing games and the novel writing, we never know when we're going to need to look something up.

But even we don't have books on everything. That's why I'm picking our friends' brains. B can tell me everything I need to know about guns more efficiently than I can hunt down this information, in which I have little intrinsic interest. W has spent a good chunk of her life around horses and can keep me from making Bean into Superpony. If I need to actually fire a Henry rifle or ride over rough terrain (I hope not) they can set me up, and I'm hoping to coax them into vetting portions of the finished manuscript for Gross Ignorance. B has already given me a primer on what evidence a gunfight conducted primarily with cap-and-ball firearms would leave at the scene (not much, it turns out - no casings to eject and the balls malform and break up so you hardly ever find them).

What writers who don't have gaming groups and indiscriminate book-buying habits do, I have no idea. I spent most of the afternoon reworking the chapter and it's much better now. A little grosser; a little more immediate; a little more interesting. I don't think I've given Len any more clues than she should have gotten, or let her (or Bean) behave better than they would have.

At this stage, it doesn't have to be brillian writing. I'm just glad to have the draft down.

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