Real Life Research: Private Detective

So, I think I’m going to start using this blog to show off cool research.  A big part of writing fiction is doing research and learning about things, it’s not just about making stuff up. (Yeah, even though I’m not in school, I still do a lot of research, I just don’t write nonfiction papers anymore, it all goes into fiction.)  We learn about people, about events, about how things work.  Then all of our research becomes story fodder.

Often times, seasoned professionals get upset with writers who misrepresent them and their work.  And it’s true that sometimes we don’t know what we’re writing wrong because we’re just writing what someone before us has written.  It can be anything–getting science wrong or history wrong, or someone’s culture wrong.  We take a lot for granted.

I would love to invite guest posts on these and any subjects.  Have you done research and learned something new lately?  What was it and what are 5 things you found new, interesting, or surprising?

– – –

I have a character who used to be a private detective, so I went looking to see what there was to learn about being a private detective, and I found this distance-learning school at Detective Training Institute.  They teach you all the book-work learning in 3-6 months in preparation for being an apprentice PI at an agency.  Really cool! They also offer their first lesson free, so I read that.  Here are five new things I learned from their introductory lesson:

  1. Apprentices can be as young as 17, and they usually do mostly surveillance work since they are easily overlooked.
  2. Private Investigators are no longer allowed to carry a badge.  There has been too much confusion between PIs and Police Force detectives, and impersonating a police officer is illegal.
  3. Most PIs do not carry guns.  In fact, gun-carrying is discouraged because it gives you a sense of superiority and omnipotence.
  4. But on the other hand, PIs can be bodyguards and bounty hunters, something I hadn’t really connected the dots to before.
  5. PIs don’t just work in the legal field for criminal investigations or the private sector (to locate missing persons or check up on cheating spouses, etc.), but also with insurance companies to protect them from insurance fraud and with corporate entities to protect their products and investigate potential employees’ backgrounds.

I learned a lot more than this, but 5 seems like a good number.  Expect to see more posts like this one!


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