help writing a story

FirstForst's picture

Hello to all!

I'm probably posting this in the wrong area, so my apologies. I'm currently writing a story that I'm going to attempt to submit for publishing. But I find myself at a loss and need a little help. I need to find a private investigator to speak to as one of the main characters is one. I've tried searching through yahoo and Google and it keeps giving me corporate stuff, which isn't what I'm looking for. I also checked the phone book and most everything I saw was for catching someone cheating.
Anyway if anyone could recommend someone or point me in the right direction, I’d be grateful.
Thank for reading!

jeff's picture


Sounds like classic procrastination to me.

Just start writing. It is better to get something down on paper and then, once you have something written, you can find a PI and say, is this possible?

I remember Stephen King wrote a novel (I'm blanking on the name), where a guy disappears in Western Pennsylvania at the side of a creek, and he just wrote the whole thing out, and part of his revision process was to make the police part of the story more accurate.

The forward motion of the narrative is yours, not up to other people to provide. Plus, you can write a story where the PI is completely inept, or unethical, or breaks the code of conduct for the profession, none of which requires research.

The biggest trap you can fall into as a writer, and I've certainly done it myself, is using any excuse to not write. If you didn't write today, you failed as a writer. If you don't write tomorrow, you are failing. Until you are looking up things and doing your research IN ADDITION TO writing, then it is just procrastination. Posting this as a means to get your the information you need is not writing.

What happens that isn't about the PI? Write that. And, if the entire story hinges on something you don't know anything about... why is this the story you're writing? John Grisham was a lawyer, he wrote thrillers about the law. Not a coincidence.

Write something you don't need to research as heavily to begin.

But whenever you read this, write.

What I do is set my alarm to go off at 4 a.m. I have a nice, relaxing alarm that rings a little bell to wake me up. Nothing jarring. Just very gradual waking. Before I went to bed, I opened up Word and had the document right where I wanted to begin writing, or a page or so back if I want to re-read and get into the groove.

This morning, I wrote nearly non-stop for 2.5 hours. Then I went back to bed for 2 hours. All day, it was almost nagging at me that I didn't write, since it was so easy and stress-free.

I'm getting ready to crash now, so I'm not too tired again when I wake up at 4. But find a system that works for you to write every day.

And, at this stage of the game, focus on creating, then finishing, and then publishing. Why make your goal the one piece over which you have the least amount of control?


"Be like a postage stamp. Stick to one thing until you get there." -- Josh Billings.

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Ginger's picture

dunno if this helps, but

npr's "this american life" did a piece on detectives. follows a private detective around for a day, etc.

its show number 28, and you can listen to the whole thing on their website

milee13's picture

Jeff has a point, often the

Jeff has a point, often the best writing does come from experience, and when you don't have the experience do the research, but you can't allow that sort of thing to come between you and progress.

So you can't find a PI to talk to, re-evaluate whether or not you actually need to talk to one, depending upon what you're writing and how much of that aspect of the character is portrayed, you may be able to get away with just doing research about the field. I have no doubt that you can easily find out what kind of training is undergone and what methods are used in the field without actually speaking to someone.

As a side-note, I actually *do* know a private investigator, and I highly doubt that speaking with one will prove to be at all necessary. That's the sort of job which, while it may seem interesting to someone who has been exposed to the glorified aspects of it on TV, has just as many dull bits as any other. far as forward motion is concerned, I'm part of an advanced fiction writing workshop and at our last meeting one of my peers asked our instructor (who has published several novels and edits anthologies, so she's pretty familiar with techniques that work) if she had any exercises for developing plot--and essentially her response was that sometimes it's better to write without a forced plot and just work more on the development of the characters and try to accept the fact that sometimes things that you're writing aren't going to turn out the way that you first conceived them to be.

If this is your first time working on a piece for submission....put the piece first and finish it before worrying about any publication crap. You don't need the extra pressure--unless of course you've already procured some fancy book deal?