Pennwriters Conference Series: #4 Researching Police

I’m running a bit behind this week. The hot weather and I don’t mix well. One word: cranky. And I’m planning my weeklong Tinker Mountain writing workshop in Roanoke, VA next week.

Today, I am bringing you the last installment in the Pennwriters Conference Series, discussing a few things I picked up from Kathleen George’s class on Researching the Police.

Kathleen shared her experiences and stories gained from researching her novels, and gave the group several tips to follow with our own endeavors.

1.     Let your potential research contacts know you are taking your writing seriously and you have a few questions regarding your plot.
2.     Keep in mind: People usually want to help you out. Just ask.
3.     When contacting the police, send an email explaining your intent. Then, follow up with a quick call; possibly leave a message, to give the individual you are trying to reach a heads up about the email.
4.     You will need to get clearances to participate in a ride-along and tour the department. They want to make sure you’re not a loon. 
5.     Two hours is an appropriate time to spend interviewing.
6.     Bring a gift for the interviewee.
7.     If researching a morgue, be sure to breath through your mouth. Kathleen said she could smell dead flesh for a week because she inhaled through her nose. Gross!
8.     Granted, speaking over the phone can help you move forward with your novel, but field research can be very rewarding and provide an abundance of insight and rich stories.
9.     Keep your eyes and ears open when interviewing. You never know what you might come across that could make its way into your stories.

What tips do you have for researching? What topics have you researched for your writing? 

Check out Alex's Conference Post! 


Anna said…
I like to use the archive. I've never interviewed anyone for a project, but I do tend to read everything I can on the subject as I write the first draft.

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