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.

16 thoughts on “You can pick your friends. And you can pick your locks. But . . .

  1. If you don’t lock your elbows the first time you fire a Desert Eagle, you are likely to whack yourself in the face.

    It helps greatly to close the correct eye when shooting depending on whether you are right or left handed.

    A punch to the sternum will drop anyone.

    If you take martial arts or self-defense, always pick the person out for blood. The more force you fall with, the less it hurts. Don’t let someone try and drop you “gently”.

    If you push the soft section behind the bottom front teeth, it will be impossible for the person to bite you.

    Two spread fingers can push eyeballs into someone’s head. A man is far less likely to protect his face than his groin.

    If you hook your finger behind an earlobe and push in while pulling upward, a person will go wherever you take them.

  2. When you’re walking with a severed carotid artery the resulting blood splatter will make a sine wave on the wall you’re walking past. (I used to do law and we got to go to a blood splatter pattern analysis lecture – brilliant!)

    • Oh, I’d love to sit in on that lecture!

      What if I’m running past a wall with a severed carotid artery, hollering for 911 and screaming for my mother? Longer wave?

      (that’s a serious question, by the way)

  3. My hubs is a locksmith. The stories he could tell are immeasurable. It’s always fun to watch how they try to show lock picking in the movies and on tv. And it scares most people to know how fast he can get into things.

    Most of my random knowledge runs more to trivia, like there are 336 dimples on a golf ball. But I also know the photographer for the state forensics lab. So there is that.

    • You live with your own locksmith expert? I’m envious! I mean, I love my yoga instructor, but his expertise isn’t useful for this particular book.

      • Yep. He’s even taught me how to re-pin a lock and cut a key. And I’ve watched him open enough vehicles that I could probably do that too, with the right tools. Of course, we also built our house from the floor plans up, so I can build a wall and mud sheet rock too. It’s all about the life skills.

  4. Based on how much you’ve learned (all of it awesome), I haven’t learned nearly as much but…there are three types of airships: non-rigid, semi-rigid and rigid. And EMP guns are real. You could purchase one -right- now.

    Neat post! These are the kind cool things that people want to know about the awesome author whose books they love. 🙂

    • You write great airships, Lisa! 🙂

      Can you imagine road rage with EMP guns? Is it wrong that I just said, “Wicked awesome!” ?

      Glad you liked the post — now all I need is a book people love . . . 😛

  5. i have zero cool info, but this post does beg the question—what did writers do before the internet to find details? no wikipedia? no imdb? no asking google “what day of the week was august 21 1950?”

    • That would be the days when librarians were revered as the Gatekeepers of All Knowledge, Providers of Facts, Locators of all References . . . (cue music) . . . The Shushmasters.

      Ah, good times . . .

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