NNWM/15: Cliff Clavin

Today was a very productive writing day. I dashed out over 2,000 words for the first time since Day 1. I have reached a crucial scene in my novel that is fun to write and the words are flowing. It’s a full-on writer’s high, and I hope it continues for the rest of the month. I am on a roll now.

One of the most enjoyable parts of writing, for me, is the research. I have always considered myself to have a bit of an encyclopedic nature and love learning things. I remember working at a job once where, quite frankly, I was often bored. I’d turn to the internet for entertainment – specifically, Wikipedia. I’d while away the hours looking up topics of interest in order to learn more. The subjects varied widely – one day I might read up on George Harrison, while the next, I’d be delving into D-Day or the Apollo missions to the moon or the lyrics to Supertramp’s “Breakfast In America.” It was all incredibly random. I fancied myself a Cliff Clavin of sorts, a guy with a mental library chock full of mostly useless information. And like the fictional postman on Cheers, I found myself approaching friends and coworkers and leading off conversations with, “It’s a little known fact that…”cliff-clavin

Nowadays, it’s all about authenticity. First off, I had to learn what made Elvis Presley tick. Now I’m studying up on police procedurals, and it’s a good thing I am. For instance: it’s a little known fact that the fingerprinting process involves optical scanners and digital prints rather than ink and cardboard, as I’d long assumed. Once upon a time, of course, but nowadays that manual process is extinct. My novel would have been hopelessly outdated had I not taken the time to look that up. Thank you, Google.

Which makes me wonder: how in the hell did authors research their stories before the advent of the World Wide Web?

Word Count Today: 2,106.
Total Word Count: 27,549.


Published by Mark Petruska

I'm a professional writer and editor living my best life in south central Wisconsin.

9 thoughts on “NNWM/15: Cliff Clavin

  1. I also love research, just for my own edification. I enjoy everything from genealogy, learning about places I travel to, and of course, checking up on people from my past (aka stalking?).


  2. I do the same thing. As a horror author my research takes me to some very weird places. Probably the oddest thing I’ve ever looked up online was how long would it take 1/2 dozen full-sized pigs to eat a human body and what, if anything, would be left behind that still needed to be disposed of. When the InterWebz fails me, it’s off to Ye Olde Library (easy as I happen to work at the main research library of a very large university). I’ve also conducted a phone interview with a funeral director to learn more about the inner workings of caskets! After the book came out, I saw him again and asked him how I did on the part I’d asked him again. He laughed and said it was perfect. Good times! Write on, my friend! I’m hoping to get in that zone again soon myself.


  3. Police protocols: In all the movies they hand cuff the guy in front. Not in real life . They cuff hands behind your back. And why do all the guns sound like plastic when they are dropped ? And while I’m at it , cannonballs do not explode when they hit ships or forts. On the other hand your head will explode if you get hit.


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