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Characters in Crime

Seven deadly writing tips: Ask the experts

The Crime Writers of Canada slay us with ways to make your crime and mystery stories killer.

5. Ask the experts
"Good research makes great stories possible. Writers have better access to subject matter experts than just about anyone. I have interviewed specialists in forensics, bomb squads, fire and private investigators; discussed body part disarticulation with a pathologist eating lunch next to a gurney with a murder victim. Without exception, every expert I have interviewed was polite, helpful, and flattered to discuss their work. Approach them with confidence and explain who you are and what you are doing. Ask for referrals to other experts; this is particularly helpful in law enforcement. Once you have all that great material, use only what is pertinent to the story."

Dave Hugelschaffer is the author of the critically acclaimed Porter Cassel mystery series, based on wildfire investigation, statistically the most difficult crime to solve. As a former forest firefighter and ranger he brings an insider view of the dangerous and unpredictable world of wildfire. He lives in Edmonton.

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