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Mining for Diamonds

Strike It Rich with Research—Without Getting Buried Alive

David Corbett

Before becoming a novelist, I worked as a private investigator. My job required, among other things, that I knock on lots of doors and ask lots of questions of lots of strangers. Not all the people I approached reacted cheerfully. I was often yelled at, routinely cursed, frequently threatened, and once almost run over. (The man who tried to kill me, ironically, was a doctor.)

My job taught me the three key elements of any successful attempt to gather facts, and they’ve served me well in my fiction:

  1. Prepare and organize. Begin by developing a fundamental understanding of what you believe you need to learn. This means knowing enough about your basic story ...

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