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Sex, Drugs & Research

Today's post is not about the iPad. I'll let the other five billion Apple enthusiasts write about it.

Now that I'm writing romantic suspense, the amount of research required has increased tremendously. And I'm not even writing about anything complicated (no Tom Clancy-style descriptions of military hardware in my books…yet). Whereas before all I had to do was make sure I got the streets of San Diego correct (you tend to forget a few things after almost twenty years), and look up minor questions online, now I'm writing about DEA agents, drug cartels, and people with guns.

Yikes! I now read a lot of news articles about the drug wars in Mexico, read memoirs of law enforcement types who worked undercover, and pepper my friend's husband with questions about guns, the DEA, and government agencies (lucky for me, he's in a position to know, and willing to share!).

I love learning new things, but the research would be much more fun if I got to learn from experience. There's a lot I want to do. For example, I'd like to go to a gun range and try out the different weapons I'm writing about. I'd love to take the offensive driving course for law enforcement. I'd like to go on a ride-along with a police officer. Ooh, and I want to try rock climbing–I'm sure I could fit that in somehow.

And, since we're having a wishful thinking session, I'd like to live in San Diego again. Can I write off the move as a professional expense? 😉

My biggest complaint about research is how much writing time it eats up. But, if it makes the story better, then it's time well spent.

Tell your friends!


  1. Reply

    I think that’s pretty cool that you are so willing to let your writing research take you in some radically new directions. Let me know how that rock climbing and shooting work out for you. 🙂 I guess there are certain things I’m willing to learn without the actual experience, but I’d love to put some exotic locales in my MS and write off the trips!

    • Reply

      Thanks, Kathleen. For now, most of my experience will have to be vicarious, but I’m always up for a good adventure, especially if it includes an exotic locale!

  2. Barbara Saunders


    I love this post. We nonfiction writers tend to have the opposite problem. There’s even the name for it: the research rapture. It’s so tempting to read a zillion other books while researching even a short essay. I’m stuck right now on old religious philosophy.

    • Reply

      I can relate to your problem. I love to learn, and it’s so easy to get stuck letting one site or book lead you to another. That’s part of the fun of writing, but also makes it easy to procrastinate. Good luck!

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