Monday, March 1, 2010

Research: Hands On

Writers draw a lot from their own experiences, but occasionally they have to call upon other sources to round out their stories. Lots of writers rely on the Internet, interviews and what they've gleaned by their own reading. But ultimately, what brings life to a story is reality.

Real life experience.

Well, yesterday I had a head on meeting with reality. It started off innocently enough. DH's friends, many of them retired Army, Marine or Special Ops have been visiting the Casa since he's come home to recuperate from his hip surgery. I hosted a BYO Appetizer and cocktail night (because hey, I'm not a martyr--I don't need to prove I'm the hostess with the mostess when I am also  the cursed nurse) on Friday night. One of the guests, retired Army, got very excited when I said I was trying to learn about guns. My heroine is learning to defend herself.

Hoorah! He had the best solution for me to learn all about it. I'd already held a gun and played with it thanks to a writing buddy with one of her own. But to go shooting? On private property? Woohoo. Me and a gun? Scary thought. But I was game.

On Sunday we received fun instructions to our friend's house, an invite for burgers and drinks, too, and off we went: me, DD and DH. We arrived and our friend was giddy with excitement. After all, he got to empower more women. He had a target set up, four different guns on a table, tons of ammo and all the protective gear.

First lesson? How to hold the guns. Second lesson? How to shoot the different guns at the target. Darling Daughter's Texan genes came through with the .22 pistol. Frankly, I was amazed at her steady hand. Then I was up. Oh, the .22 has a magazine and a safety and a sliding mechanism. Oh crap. My heroine in a stressful situation could seriously jam the damn thing. Oh, and another thing? Sighting the target? Not easy without a handy dandy laser beam.

.22 won't work well for my book. But when I got to the regular Revolver, Smith & Wesson with the laser grip? I was on fire. Cocked the hammer, performed BRAS (breath, relax, aim and shoot) and made a good showing. And our instructor, retired Army, was so fun. And honest. And when he said, a guy is coming after your daughter, incapacitate him, well... it was easy to shoot the target.

Lots of other vernacular. Lots of neat lessons. Cool beans! I had fun. I learned that when I set the revolver down and said, "I like this one," I'd use it in my book. And I decided to take my heroine outside to learn how to shoot with her hero. And who knows? Maybe a flamboyant retired Army dude will lead the way on his property.

And most interesting sidebar? He's a HUGE romance novel reader. Now doesn't that beat all?


Ellen B said...

How do you meet these people, Christine? First you find an old man who wants coloured t-shirts and a stuffed animal for Christmas, then you tell us about your twice-decorated FIL, and now you've met a retired Army dude who reads romance novels.

Do you walk around carrying a sign saying 'Interesting People: I'm Over Here!'? :)

オテモヤン said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
M.V.Freeman said...

How awesome!! That is the way to do it, just get out there. I like how you immediately knew what would or would not work for your heroine. :-)

And for an Army guy to read romance, even I have to say, now that is pretty darn cool.

Christine said...

Ellen, it's really funny how that happens to me. I never met a stranger and I am very open to people--disarm them with my cute little blond act. Seriously, I just ask a lot of questions and I'm genuinely interested in them. His third wife (he's a widower and once divorced--late wife introduced him to romance novels) wants to learn bass fishing, follows the famous fishermen (there's a lot apparently), and she's a former physics teacher. Talk about a story brewing!

Christine said...

Mary, it was really just like that. I shot of my 3 rounds of six, thought about how easy it was to jam the other gun and I hit the target so much better with the revolver and laser sight. I put the gun down on the table and was like, I WANT THIS ONE. It just felt right.

To incorporate that feeling into my WIP will make it all the more powerful... speaking of which... off I go to wrestle it into the ground.

KarenG said...

Oh, I like this! It makes me want to go out exploring, or have a bbq, then go shooting squirrels or something. I like how you plan on using it in your wip, which I definitely want to read!

Christine said...

KarenG: thanks for the vote of confidence. It was a lot of fun. Next up? Going to a radio station. Working that into my schedule after I get this plot revision completed. I will layer in the elements of setting (deepen them and tighten them) next.

This is the part of writing that I love! Feeding my curiosity about people and places and events.


Wendy Marcus said...

How cool to actually fire a gun! My research involved watching a bunch of YouTube videos, and reading pages of instructional manuals and retail data. BORING!

Gwen Hernandez said...

Sorry, I'm behind on my blog reading. What a great experience. Sounds like a blast!

Christine said...

Wendy: I got lucky. I met an amazing person through my DH. So fun.

Gwen: I am behind, too! Very behind. But that means we're writing!!

Anonymous said...

This sounds like soooo much fun!!

Sorry I haven't been by lately - I've got to find a way to get you in my inbox... !!!

Christine said...

Hi Martha! Good to see you back! I totally understand--been scrambling to get caught up over here, too.

And yes, it was so much fun. I can't wait to go out and shoot again. Who knew I would channel Annie Oakley and take to shooting?

Guess I got a little of my big Texan hubby's influence going through me... :-)