what are your primary forms of research? To be specific, do you look at scientific journals, speak with people who specialize in the field, watch videos, etc? And if you go for that personal meeting with a person, how do you approach them (through email? Setup face to face meetings)? Are people in a university setting usually open to these encounters? Thank you so much for your time!
Yes. All of that.
Do you remember the opera house in Omaha that’s featured in Magic Breaks? We actually called there to find out what color ceiling it had, because it looked ivory in some shots and yellow in others. I found an old post about it and unlocked it for you.
In my experience, people are very receptive to talking about something they love enough to choose it as their career. Most of the time email is the preferred mode of communication because they can respond to it at their leisure and you’re not interrupting anything on their end with an email like you can sometimes interrupt with a phone call.
More recently, we consulted Professor Bronwyn H. Bleakley, whom we thanked here. That conversation greatly enhanced our understanding of people’s motivations.
But the primary sources of research are always books and internet. If you want a solid foundation to understand something, try to find a children’s book about it. They are usually clearly written, have illustrations, and assume zero familiarity with the subject. Google is very useful, specifically google maps.
Please don’t feel compelled to get every possible detail right. You will drive yourself batty.
For example, we are writing a scene involving Houston’s Institute of Forensic Sciences. We google-drove around it. We looked at the pictures. But we don’t know its exact layout. We are not sure that the autopsy suite we are describing is on the floor we are describing. We can spend several hours verifying this or we can move on with writing the story. In the grand scheme of things, the exact floor isn’t important. So pick your battles. Research isn’t writing. Only writing is writing.
How do y’all work out the fight sequences? Watch videos or movies, sword fight in the living room or just wrangle it out in your mind? I’m sorry if this has been asked before. I’ve only lately realized you address process.
See the answer above. Lots and lots of martial art video viewing. And yes, if possible, you should try to actually work through the martial arts moves you are describing.
For example, I read a book where the character is knocked flat on his back by a werewolf, who is now on top of him. The character bends his legs and dramatically kicks the werewolf off. This isn’t going to work. When someone of significant weight and size is on top of you, you can’t bend your knees to work your feet under them. Try it. The only way this would work would be if the werewolf deliberately lifted his hind end to allow for the legs to be bent. Neither dogs nor humans fight that way. We always instinctively try to pin our opponent with our weight.
So make sure it makes sense. Also, keep in mind that martial arts in competition are different than actual fighting. In a real fight, when you got your opponent on the ground, you’re not going to use a fancy submission hold. You’re going to smash his head against the pavement until he stops struggling.