Saturday, March 29, 2008

Research: what would you do?

Reading over my WIP I have a scene where someone hands the heroine a glass that she thinks has water in it. It's really vodka. She takes a gulp and....

What? I've never gulped vodka? (I only mix it with coke) So, what do I say besides she gagged? Does it get hot? Burn? What does vodka taste like And what does it taste like without coke mixed it?

When I broached this subject with my college kid (age 21) she had just the thing: tiny, airplane sized, bottles of vodka left over from her vacation last week. (I chose not to ask) My other daughter (age 24)grabbed some shotglasses and we started our research.

Since the first shocking gulp was what I needed we lined up the shot glasses and ....
"Rubbing alcohol." Everyone nodded. Yeah, flat and broad when it hits your tongue then hot and burning as it makes its way down before an explosion of heat across your chest.

Just in case you ever need to know.

So, what would you do/or have you done for research?


Erica Orloff said...

Unless you are a vodka drinker, Aimless. In which case, it's smooth and delicious. ;-) What can I say? I'm Russian.

For research? Hmm . . . watching a real autopsy on CD-ROM courtesy of a pal who works in forensics.

Not for the day you eat lunch at your desk.

eliza said...

I think Orson Scott Card once said that it's the duty of a writer to know everything about everything. It certainly sounds like a valid test to me. :)

Aimless Writer said...

My dh is suggesting we put a bottle in the freezer for a few day. He says its way smoother that way.
I wouldn't watch an operation - ewww.
But I'd watch an autopsy. Strange, but I think the human body is different after the spirt leaves. So, how was the autopsy? How did you use it?

Aimless Writer said...

I think Orson was right. As writing moves along I find myself investigating the most interesting things. lol

Erica Orloff said...

Hi Aimless:
I used some of it in my Billie Quinn books. And . . . I think the one thing I was rather mindful of afterwards is how they weigh the liver and so on . . . how it's all rather undignified. We're just . . . parts . . . when our souls have left.


Zoe Winters said...

hehehe. I like when I can do in person research. I once went to a Latin Mass for a scene in my book. And then I managed to trek down the latin words for the exorcism ritual.

Aimless Writer said...

Zoe, Church for research? Hmmm, I had some pretty scary experiences in church when I was younger. Never thought to go for research. Although, there are some questions I wonder about on how priests and nuns live. Like what would their daily life be like, how much do they get paid, are there any rules on what they can and can't do? I wonder about these things.
I do have a cop friend who I ask procedural questions. After asking questions about murder investigations he turns to my husband and tells him "If anything happens to you I know just where to look." lol

Richmond Writer said...

I want to know how you got the picture of the squirrel with the vodka bottle! That's hilarious. Did he want to drink it?

Zoe Winters said...

hehe Aimless. I probably wouldn't go to the church I was raised in for research unless I was writing a horror novel, but since I wasn't raised Catholic, it was new and different and interesting. I wanted to get the "feel" of a Latin Mass. Because the scene was meant to be pretty atmospheric. :)

Aimless Writer said...

richmond writer; the squirrel lives in New Jersey...does that explain it?

Julie Weathers said...

I'm a die hard fan of accurate research. I have five years of research invested in my cattle baroness book. So much so I unraveled a mystery the King Ranch historian hadn't been able to crack.

Most fun was reading the old newspaper articles from Brownsville. Especially the one describing how the young minister who was engaged to Henrietta was injured when a fist fight broke out in their weekly debate society meeting. I'm sure the hard drinking, brawling riverboat captain guffawed loudly about his intended love's fiancee.

I consider Diana Gabaldon a consumate writing professional and she is constantly researching.

We owe it to our readers to be as accurate as possible even if it is fiction.

For myself, I'm planning on taking armor making and sword fighting classes for Paladin's Pride.

I don't research stuff that will haunt my nights.

Josephine Damian said...

Erica: You haven't experienced a corpse until you've smelled a corpse - kinda hard to do on TV.

Aimless: I busted my ass in forensic anthropolgy classes to qualify to work at the MEO.

Now I'm in grad school studying forensic psychology as reaseach for my serial killer novel - if the writing doesn't pay off, at least I have working criminal cases to fall back on.