Don Massenzio published a phenomenal blog post about research, facts, and details. I had thought for a second that writing fantasy books is easier – a little magic and you can turn things the way you need them, right? – Wrong. I tried that once – and screwed up the entire following chapter. Don is right – do your research. Thank you for your valuable advice, Don!
In my first book, Frankly Speaking, my main character, Frank Rozzani, notices someone has broken into his home. He reaches into his glove box for his Glock and proceeds inside with caution. Sounds right, doesn’t it. That’s what other characters in books, television, and movies do.
In my original draft, however, I had him making sure the safety was off. When I let an author acquaintance of mine, who is a retired police officer, read the book, he came to that part and let me know that a Glock doesn’t have a safety. I had no idea. I didn’t know a Glock from a hole in the wall.
This taught me a valuable lesson. I went back through that book and looked for other things. For instance, I used GPS and satellite phone technology in the book and I researched the use of these things extensively to make sure that it was accurate.