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I hate when people say “write what you know” because on the surface, that means only real adventurers and mad scientists are qualified to write the stories I like to read/watch. The saying really means (or ought to mean) extrapolate from your own emotional experience. That said, I find it challenging to write characters who do jobs that I’ve never done, yet writers do it successfully all the time. Wikipedia gives straight-up facts, but not the colloquialisms and slang and short-forms that those people use, and interviewing people will only take one so far, since sometimes one is alone at one’s desk, realizing only then that one has to describe a character putting dynamite in the right place and making it not explode until the character is safely out of there, and there is no one available to interview who knows how to word that properly.

There ought to be a Jargon for Writers site out there, including pages for Medical Jargon, Law Jargon, Auto Mechanic Jargon, etc., with examples of how to use each word or phrase in a sentence. Thorough research is important, but if my script as a whole isn’t about making train tunnels in the 19th century, though one part of one scene does involve it, I’m not about to raid the library for the published diaries of Victorian railroad workers. In any case, I don’t ever want to turn into this:


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