It appears to be a hard and fast Writing Rule that you should write what you know.
Don’t know about everyone else, but I tend to write what I intuit up to the point where I start using algebra—“She used X to pop the Y lock on the Z”—and then set forth to learn what I should know about what I’m writing.
Among the stuff I’ve learned so far: You can fit two bodies or 540 cartons of cigarettes into the trunk of a ’78 Chevy Nova. Always drop the mag before you clear the chamber. Barbesol shaving cream takes the visual evidence of blood out of carpet. Under certain very specific circumstances, ex-cons may own firearms. You can break free of most zip strips—but if you’re going to practice, wear wrist guards (it stings). Everyone needs to register as a bone marrow donor because the bigger the pool, the better the odds—and that goes double for rare blood types and persons of non-European descent. If you’re going to hot wire a car, make it old enough so you don’t have to mess with a steering lock. Love scenes take interesting turns when you’re listening to Chris Isaak and a little Depeche Mode.*
And the most difficult part of picking a lock is convincing the locksmith that you need it for a book, no seriously.** But once you do, you’re golden, and not only will he help you with a few crucial details, but he’ll show you how to pop a double wafer lock with a hairpin and a paperclip and let you practice with a tension wrench and ball pick because you keep snapping the &$%# hairpin in half.
It’s probably a good thing that I’m not particularly talented in some of these areas***—Writer of All Trades, Mistress of None?—but I don’t have to be. I just have to find the people who are and listen to ’em.
Anyone have any cool stuff they’d like to share?
*Adolescent of the ’80s. Sue me.
**It helps if you’re the library lady who helped his kid research a History Day project that made it to the regionals. Just saying.
***I am a donor, though—blood, marrow, organs. Don’t have to have talent for that. Go forth and register, please.