Friday, September 19, 2014

Writers' Police Academy 2014 — Day 2

Classes started again early Saturday morning. I enjoyed the session on Policing "Back in the Day." Less than 40 years ago, police still carried revolvers (eg. six-shooters that you have to cock between shots), had only two items on their belts, and had very limited radios. Information — like license registrations — came from books, not computers, or from teletype machines that sent requests for somebody in another state to look in a book. (For a fun fictional account of cops and life in the 1970s, I recommend Life on Mars.)

I grabbed a seat in John Gilstrap's class, which had been overflowing all weekend. His take on "Technical stuff that writers get wrong" had us falling out of those precious seats. We moved from laughter to sobriety as he showed us what kind of damage bullets and explosions can do.

"There are no flesh wounds" or minor bullet wounds, contrary to what we see in movies and TV shows. Even a shoulder is a complex part of anatomy (those of us with past injuries can agree). And a broken leg will not hold a person's weight.

(The very next day I read a passage wherein a villain was standing in the protagonist's path, a piece of bone jutting out of his leg. But maybe the laws of physics don't apply in fantasy...).

Writer and former prosecutor Alifair Burke debunked myths about court cases and police procedure, especially search and/or seizure. More than 90% of searches don't have or need warrants.

The banquet was fun, as usual, though busy for those of us behind the scenes.

Michael Connelly was our featured speaker. He keeps a dedicated writing schedule to pound out all those novels. He worked as a reporter before publishing his first book. As a former journalist myself, his statement resonated with me: "There is no writer's block in the newspaper business."

The silent auction, raffle, and some practical joking topped off the evening. Here's yours truly with the crime scene quilt, one of the silent auction items. It reminds me of a little bookshop decor.

Back to Writer's Police Academy — Day 1

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