If you’re going to write realistic fiction, you have to do research. It’s inevitable. A few months ago I was doing research on burn tests of fabrics. This is most often done with unlabeled fabrics to see what the fiber content is. The color of the flame, odor of the burning swatch, and the burned remains give clues as to the composition of that mystery fabric. I think I spent a few hours online figuring out what was right for just a few lines in a story. Time spent learning is time well spent (probably).

This weeks research is on the merits of various non-lethal weapons used in law enforcement. I sense a sharp learning curve ahead. I’d heard of rubber bullets and bean bag rounds. And, of course, we’ve all seen the “don’t tase me bro” bro. Wish me luck, because this is a little out of my usual line.

I started off with saying it’s necessary for realistic fiction, but I think it’s fairly true of any writing. Even high fantasy or uber sci-fi needs to have a basis in your reader’s real life experiences, some basis in reality. If you’re characters are going to do human things like drink wine, sword fight, or leave the gravity well of a planet, there is research to be done.

I like that I’m learning things I usually wouldn’t think about. I’m really grateful I have people of whom I can ask questions and learn from. On that note, if you like to write, you should really find a good writer’s group. Even if you only ever see each other online or once a month, it’s good for you.

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