Okay, I know I’m not telling anyone here anything new. But this post was prompted by what happened last night vs. a (rediculous) thread I read a while back (not here) questioning the need to research.
For me, research is an on-going process. I may only need the information for a sentence or two, but it has to be right, right? Some things I know I’ll need to check ahead of time before I write that first word, but for the most part, I research as the plot develops. It’s part of the (my) writing process.
Last night I was working on a chapter in which a body had washed to shore after several weeks immerged in frigid waters. (You may want to put that sandwich down). Not having a medical background or experience in pathology, I’ve done a considerable amount of reading on human decomposition, autopsies, etc.—if I don’t know the answer, I know where to find it.
According to my reading, Adipocere is a natural process of decomposition in which the body fat turns into insoluble salts of fatty acids, producing a yellowish-white substance popularly known as “grave wax.” Great, I’ve read about it in several reference books and journals. My findings are consistent. (Great again) Last night I decided to take a look at some pictures. Yikes. Please excuse the cliché but a picture IS worth a thousand words. What I saw was nothing like what I had imagined from my reading. Those pictures told a story all their own. The images gave me informaton that wasn't mentioned as possible characteristics of Adipocere in the reference books, but obviously can happen. Consequently, that brief section of dialogue (3 sentences to be exact) between the medical examiner and the detective took on a whole new feel.
Is there a doc in the house?