You can pick your friends. And you can pick your locks. But . . .

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 oddsand 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.