Lock Picking – A Practical Personal Guide to Book Research By Raina Schell
“Write about what you know and care deeply about. When one puts one’s self on paper — that is what is called good writing.” ~Joel Chandler Harris
I’m no expert but I do know that when you write a book and/or character, a lot of research has to go into it to make it believable. For example, one author I spoke to recently used firearms in her book so she took shooting lessons. This is what we, as responsible writers, do – strive for authenticity. More so, this is what we wake in the morning itching to do…
Researching is one of my favorite aspects of writing, it makes me giddy inside.
Elisabetta (Lizzy) Moretti, the 23 year old Sicilian woman who is the protagonist in my Destiny Series was born on paper over 15 years ago. Lizzy evolved again and again over the past years that I’ve been writing her and she continues to evolve but one thing has remained the same, Lizzy is a thief. She wasn’t born a thief but she fell in with the “wrong crowd” somewhere along the way, you’ll have to read the book to find out the nitty gritty of how and why; and she was well trained.
When Lizzy learned how to lock pick I learned how to lock pick. I watched youtube videos for hours and hours and because I didn’t have a lock picking set (yet) I made my first picks out of paper clips. I then proceeded to pick every lock in my house. Within a week I could pick the deadbolt on my front door with a paper clip (actually 2 paper clips as one is used as the tension wrench) in under 30 seconds. No, this did not make me feel safe but it did make me feel quite accomplished. That’s when I realized I’ve always been a lock picker. It started when I was a wee tot and would pick the bathroom locks with broken off Q-tips, the cardboard ones, not the plastic ones. I didn’t understand the mechanism of a lock (tumblers and the shear line) then but I still had the innate ability to do it. Maybe it’s because I was locked in my room without food for days as a child, true story. Or maybe it’s because when I set my mind to do something I do it. Persistence-are-us. Who knows why? It doesn’t really matter.
What matters is throwing yourself headlong into that research. Almost as if you’re an actor and you’re method acting. You become your character. Lock picking can even be a metaphor for whatever it is you need to learn in order for your character to be believable and well rounded. You could go into your story and character development giving them a skill you have already mastered, one you’ve always wanted to learn or one you knew as a child but forgot somewhere along the way.
What I’ve learned from writing thus far is that a majority of it crawls up from the deepest, darkest hidden parts of ourselves, clawing and scratching its way to the surface in order to forever stain the whiteness of screen or paper.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Raina Schell lives in an undisclosed location near Marin County, California with her secret boyfriend, invisible dog and a fish named Larry. After being on the lam for the past 8 years Raina is finally coming close to completing her first novel, a paranormal romance/urban fantasy that may or may not be titled Exquisite Destiny and may or may not be the first stand-alone book of a projected 5 book series.
In the field of writing, non-novel specific: Raina has written and produced dozens of television segments and half-hour television shows. These have aired on local, national and international TV stations which will not be disclosed. For fun she’s also written un-optioned screenplays, a maverick movie trailer and countless blogs. When Raina is not writing she has other jobs that she isn’t nearly as passionate about.