As a novelist, you often have characters in need of a unique solution to a problem. My experience is the more unique the solution, and the more simple, the better. I’ve been stumped a few times, but I find if I ask around enough, I can find an answer to almost anything.
Some years ago I asked the IT person at an advertising agency where I worked if it was possible to tell what a copy machine had reproduced over a period of time. He mumbled something uncommunicative, the gist of which was, “Probably not.” Last year, some fifteen years after I asked the question, I received an email from him with a link to a news show. Since 2003 most copy machines, particularly on the high end, contain a hard drive with a record of everything that has been copied by that machine. Access the hard drive, and you have everything.
Although I had no particular use for that information at the moment, I tucked it into the recesses of my mind. Bingo! Three months later I saw an opportunity to use this information in Rules for Giving. I incorporated it in a way that serves as slick and unexpected solution to a problem.
I am working on a new novel. It is the story of some fellows who steal a sculpture in their hometown and hold it for ransom. The sculpture, by the way, actually exists. I recently went down and took some digital photographs and did a little research. Then I visited an acquaintance of mine in the monument granite monument business. He did some calculations and determined that the sculpture weighs at least 5,000 pounds. While it would be relatively simple to free it from its pedestal, the question remains of how to move it.
My next stop was a member of my writing critique group. This fellow spent his career consulting to NASA and many other aerospace companies. Although his specialty is psychology, who knows enough about physics that he was able to give me some ideas. We are planning to visit the sculpture in the next few days to take a closer look.
Also remember that this is fiction. As the writer, you can play fast and loose with some of the facts. You can change or create things to meet your needs. You can even successfully suspend belief and get the reader to accept something as truth that he or she might otherwise not believe. In the end there is no problem that you can’t get your characters out of.
See ya’ later.