Friday, September 24, 2010

Topic: Research and Authenticity in Writing

Purpose of this blog: Topics related to writing.

10-second review: Nothing beats first-hand experience—or from interviews—when it comes to providing authentic details.

Title: “Add Texture to Your Novel with Solid Research.” Joseph Finder, author of The Moscow Club. The Writer (October 2010). 20-21.

Quote: “When I was struggling to write my first novel, The Moscow Club, I got to know another aspiring writer, a cynical and embittered (but funny) man, and told him I was immersed in research for a spy thriller I hadn’t begun to write. He shook his head slowly and scowled. ‘That’s a sign of desperation,’ he intoned ominously. ‘Research is an excuse for not writing.’ ”

Quote: “The longer I write, it seems, the more research I do. For The Zero Hour, whose hero is a female FBI counterterrorism specialist, I managed to wrangle official cooperation from he FBI, and I spent a lot of time talking to several FBI special agents. I also interviewed past and present terrorism experts for the CIA.”

Quote: “I’ve done interviews with a convicted forger for details on how to falsify a U.S. passport; with a bomb-disposal expert about how to construct bombs; with an expert in satellite surveillance to help me describe how the U.S. government is able to listen in on phone conversations. I’ve called upon homicide detectives, retired FBI agents, helicopter pilots, pathologists, even experts in embalming (or ‘applied arts,’ as they are called).”

Quote: “Since an important character in The Zero Hour is a high-priced call girl, I interviewed prostitutes, expensive call girls, and madams. As a result, this character is more sympathetic and believable than I’d have drawn her otherwise.”

Comment: All research is not in books. If you need authentic details, you need research. You need to go to the places about which you are writing. You need to interview specialists or people who have experience with what you are writing about. RayS.

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