A group blog featuring an international array of killer mystery, suspense, and romantic suspense writers. With premises and story lines different from your run-of-the-mill whodunits, we tend to write outside the box. We blog several times a week on all topics relating to romantic suspense and mystery, our writing, and our readers. We welcome all comments and often have guest bloggers. All our authors can be contacted separately, too, using their own social media links.

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Monday, November 28, 2011

How much is enough?

They say write about what you know, and I’m all for that. Anything to save time on research. Besides, if you know your subject well then you’re unlikely to make mistakes that turn readers off. That’s why I made Charlie Hunter, my retired detective, live aboard his boat. I know a lot about boats. Not content with that, I plonked his boat in Brighton marina in southern England, where we used to keep our old tub. That was some years ago so I popped back when in England, just to make sure it hadn’t changed too much. I even checked, (er, make that re-checked), the Wetherspoon’s pub, all in the name of research, naturally. Cheers!

Charlie usually goes to Cowes in his boat at some point during each book in the series, simply because it’s close to Brighton and because it’s my home town. No research necessary. I even had him and his dog walking through a park next to a school. It was my school, back in the day. I wish I could have found a reason for him to go into the school and run, (sharp intake of breath), yes run, down the corridors. I can still hear an imperious teacher’s voice to this day,

“No running in the corridors, Wendy Wood. Report for detention!”

“Oh no, not again, sir.”

Sorry, some memories kind of haunt you forever, don't you find?

Here’s a picture of Cowes High Street. Quaint, isn’t it, and it’s changed little over the years I’ve known it. No, you’re not supposed to ask how many years that is. Anyway, I’m not telling! Local businesses have had to make way for Indian restaurants, estate agents and gastro pubs, and locals have been priced out of the housing market. That’s progress for you.

Still, there comes a point in every book when I can no longer rely on personal knowledge. Thank goodness for the internet! Even so, how much information is enough? Personally, if someone’s being threatened by a gun, I don’t really care what sort of gun it is, how loud the bang will be, how many bullets it holds, whether it’s silenced, how long the bullet will take to reach its target, (unless those points are important to the particular situation). It’s a gun. Okay, I get that. Now, will the person being threatened find a clever way to escape, or should the unfortunate victim prepare for the next life? That’s all that matters. Don’t burden me with too much detail, my poor brain cell is on overload as it is.

What about you? Do you like to know all the technical nitty-gritty, or are you more concerned with the story moving on? My second book in the Charlie Hunter series, Risky Business, due to be published by Carina next summer, finds Charlie in the middle of a race fixing scam, and up to his neck in a drugs ring. And before you ask, I didn’t get those facts from my personal memory banks. It’s amazing what you can find out through a little diligent googling, though.

Have a great festive season, everyone!


Shirley Wells said...

I don't want too much technical nitty-gritty either. Move the story on!

Lovely picture of Cowes High Street.

MaureenAMiller said...

What a beautiful town. Let's meet there for lunch tomorrow. I can picture you running down the cobblestone street, Wendy Wood. :)

Marcelle Dubé said...

I'm with you, Wendy. My eyes will glaze over if you provide too much information. I want to get on with the story. Much better to choose the right detail, sparingly, to make the scene come alive.

Great picture, by the way. Makes me want to go there and window shop.

Wendy Soliman said...

Glad we're all in agreement. Not too much detail, then, and we'll meet in the Cowes Tandoori for lunch tomorrow.

Rita said...

OMG the Tandoori YES!
Research and detail. Hmm! I do hours even days of research that translates to a few –like 3-5- lines on the page. My theory is the better you know something the easier it is to define it with a few words.

Toni Anderson said...

Just enough detail to set the scene. I struggle with this because I fall in love with places :) Have to try really hard not to include too much detail :) Love Cowes high street pict. I have 2 friends from there. Well, old friends :)

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I like something in the middle. Some of my favorite mystery and suspense authors do a great job of scene setting and I love that. I don't like reading the details of guns and military hardware even if I like the story. I skim over it.

Kathy Ivan said...

Definitely not a fan of too much detailed technical description. Move the story along. Give me just enough to set the tone, or give me a sense of place, and keep the scene flowing.

I'm in for lunch, too! :-)

JB Lynn said...

Count me among those that don't have a love for too much technical details.

If I'm looking to learn something I read nonfiction.

When I read a novel I'm looking to experience something.

Elise Warner said...

I love to research settings, food etc. that complete a picture but as several of you know I'm not much good with techie things. I love the photo and will now look up how a gastro pub differs from a regular pub.

Wendy Soliman said...

Gastro pubs have fancy menus, and charge more, Elise!

Charitygirlblog said...

I've been thinking about this a fair bit recently due to realising how much time I can fritter on research. I read and write a lot of historical romance so it does entail a fair bit, if only to avoid jarring inaccuracies. But I find it's like an iceberg - 9/10ths of it is hidden. Sometimes pages of reading are boiled down to half a sentence. Just enough to set the scene... And move on. The story is King!

Shelley Munro said...

Just enough detail to color the scene works for me :)

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