This has been a fabulous couple of weeks. I had information/research to gather before I could progress with my current manuscript. I could get a lot from websites and books, but what I'm talking about are the small but important details. The type of information that makes a scene spring to life. Whether that comes from talking to someone in the same business as my main character, or observing the person going about a normal day's activity, or getting the real skinny on their situation. There is nothing like taking your yellow legal pad and a nice sharp pencil and talking to real live people.
First, I needed to get information on horses. I've ridden them in the past, but it has been a long time. Plus, I needed some specifics that related to my heroine, petite little character that she is, and horsewoman that she isn't. I had made a comment on my prior post and Barbara Martin, another author and one who I've never met (except via Jenny Crusie's and Bob Mayer's blogs) immediately contacted me. She has a wealth of information. After telling her what I needed to know she went into great detail. Way and above the call of duty to a fellow blogger. I printed up her horse-related comments and had a blast creating a scene, I loved it so much I decided to do another, and then at the end of the book I'll write a final horse scene. It's one of Jenny's rules of three. And here I was only going to do one scene, now my horses, or at least one of them, becomes a character and has her own arc. Hah.
Two days later I got up the nerve to ask one of my Polo playing neighbors, Rick, (who I've only had casual nodding good morning type dialogue with) a few more horse questions, things I didn't want to bother Barbara with and learned even more. He was happy to help. I've gone back into the manuscript and threaded through all of the details. You wouldn't think that one or two words here and there would make a difference, but they do.
Today, when I thought things couldn't get any better, I visited the La Quinta P.D. to make sure I had my homicide investigation set up right. The deputy on the desk was Jeffrey Covington. What a nice man. He went over, in great detail, all of my questions related to unincorporated areas in the Coachella Valley. My questions on who would be first on scene, the Riverside County Sherrifs, the Deputy from the local P.D. Sub Station? Would there be a back-up officer? Where would he come from? Would they take the suspect in for questioning or interview him on the spot? Would they invite him to come down to the station? Would they handcuff him and take him in? Big difference and all things I want to get right.
I've learned, you can't watch television, like Cops, or NYPD, or CSI Miami, and think that that is how it's done. I discovered that from a Forensics class I took in San Diego. Anyway, by the time I left the station, Deputy Covington was helping me to write my story, much to the amusement of the other man on the desk. I wasn't too far off in my assumption of how the investigation would be carried out but after talking with the deputy I felt more confident when I went back to those scenes. They are more vivid now.