For my last project, I wrote a short story and had to do a whole bunch of research to make sure that the technical details were correct. Even the best plot can be ruined if the reader finds errors. You must do some legwork to make it right. It may be time consuming, but I don’t know a writer who pens books straight from the head. It is a good way to start and you can play with ideas and characters, but in the long run what makes a book really interesting are the details. They must be credible and accurate. I can easily spend a whole day on a very short story. The more arcane the topic, the more time I need to spend. I love learning new fodder for my work and I want to be taken beyond the boundaries I have known.
Somehow, I had gotten interested in panning for gold and metal detectors. It would be an odd way to make a living for my character. He would be colorful in his old baggy pants and miner’s hat. I could make it modern day or an historical story. I wanted to see it develop first. Why would someone want to hunt for gold in this day and age? I will tell you. As a commodity, it stands at the top of the list. Even though it fluctuates, it always has value. People love collecting gold coins. You can sell them, or any old jewelry, in every city in the world. It is even better than cash.
My character will find gold in a park with a sophisticated metal detector that had the highest frequency. I had to find out how these gadgets work and what makes one better than the other. I assumed it was the difference between finding a trashed soda can and a gold coin. Some detectors go deeper than others. This helped me round out the story and create a dilemma for the character. He could have a moral issue with Finding a Fortune, reporting a found coin or try to sell it for a profit, only to be stymied by local laws. I could make him the target of an assault by someone who had watched him dig up the gold. Or, he could be on to some real buried treasure. If you don’t tell, you won’t be found out. It is not always that easy. When you sell gold, it is weighed and evaluated. Your fingerprints must be taken in case there is a reported loss or robbery. In effect, it is legal to sell gold within limits. The dealer will check police records.
I want the story to proceed and the plot to thicken so I like the idea that the character himself is robbed. He will go on the hunt for the culprit having seen his face from afar. It pays to look over your shoulder is the moral of my tale.