By Claire Booth
Sometimes book research leads you to wonderful, interesting things. (See Steve Weddle’s or Renee Asher Pickup’s posts.) And sometimes, it leads you to inescapable, inconvenient facts that force you to rewrite the entire scene.
Take, for instance, an action scene I worked on this week. The bad guy is trying to get away. He leaps into a car, hot-wires it and speeds away. But as I wrote this, something tugged at the back of my brain. Can you do that nowadays?
I have learned not to disregard this internal alarm. It starts off as the gentle ding of an elevator door indicator, but if I ignore it, it’ll rapidly escalate until the red alert from Star Trek is blaring through my skull.
So I reluctantly put the brakes on my scene and went to Google. And was informed that yes, it is practically impossible to physically hot-wire a modern car. It might be feasible to hack into it with a computer, but ripping out different-colored wires and sparking the car into life ain’t gonna happen.
So I had written myself into a corner. The whole thing depended on the bad guy driving away in this car that wasn’t his. And it had to be a specific kind of car – I couldn’t change the make and model so it would be older and hot-wire-able.
I sulked for a few minutes, wondering why my research couldn’t have led me to Betty Grable, too (see again, Steve Weddle). Then I went back to the beginning of the chapter and started over. My internal alarm calmed down, and I figured out another way for my bad guy to drive away in that vehicle.
What pesky facts have tripped you up in your writing? And how much work did it take to fix it?