Today we welcome author Maria McKenzie who shares an insider tip that not many writers do. If you follow Maria’s advice, you’ll save yourself time and energy!
Thank you, Alice, for inviting me to post with you today at Write From the Inside Out! My name is Maria McKenzie and I’m the author of the Amazon Bestseller The Governor’s Sons.
Prior to discovering my love of writing, I was a librarian for several years. I enjoy doing research, but as writers, writing is our first priority, not research. Sometimes, however, we can end up wasting hours looking for information that we thought would be relatively easy to find.
That’s when we need to turn to “human resources.” People can be our best options when looking for those elusive answers! Today I’d like to share an example of how an expert helped me prevent a research issue from becoming a serious time drain.
I asked my husband for input on a scene I’d written involving a dynamite explosion. My husband knows explosives, but he’s not an expert—he just built bombs as a kid (miraculously, he still has both eyes and all ten fingers). After I’d read my scene to him, hubby ripped it to shreds. Granted, at that point, I hadn’t done any research. I’d only used what I’d seen on TV as a guide—never a good idea. My husband couldn’t answer all my questions regarding dynamite, so I turned first to the encyclopedia, and then to the Internet.
Although I found lots of information (including the fact that Alfred Nobel, of the Nobel Peace Prize, created dynamite), I couldn’t find the answer to every single question I had in order to write a believable scene. Instead of going to the library, checking out books and investing more time, I decided to locate a human resource—someone who’d give me more than I could find in a stack of books for the particular episode I had in mind. After playing around for a little while online, I located the International Society of Explosive Engineers. With local chapters all across the country, I called the chapter chairman closest to me.
Understandably wary, the gentleman informed me that he usually wasn’t allowed to answer questions unless someone had gone through the proper channels. After trying to convince him that I really wasn’t a terrorist, he asked me to explain what I was looking for, and then told me he’d decide what he could or couldn’t answer. After the first few minutes, he realized I was safe and literally had no clue whatsoever about explosives.
This explosive engineer taught me more about dynamite than I’ll ever need to know. He even provided me with a more realistic scenario for what I was trying to describe, as well as a way to kill off a bad guy in the aftermath of an explosion, while the good guy survives. In the end, my source gave me 45 minutes of his valuable time, answered all my questions, and let me pick his brain!
Nothing like communicating with a human resource through the good old fashioned way of talking! Sometimes that’s the most useful research out there. Next time you run into a brick wall, pick up the phone and call an expert so you can get back to more important things—like writing!
For more information on research and contacting experts, visit my blog at www.mariamckenziewrites.com, and click on “Published Articles.”
Do you have an exciting adventure in research to share? And as far as research goes, do you love it or hate it?
Thanks again, Alice for a chance to post for you and your audience!