Writers’ Tools: Expert Opinions

Expert opinions are the gilding of the lily in writing fiction. They turn a piece of entertainment into an accurate piece of entertainment, less likely to make irate professionals scream at the TV and ruin the emotional death scene for everyone else in the living room. (Yes, I have done this. Many times. We don't watch hospital dramas in my house anymore.) While I hesitate to call experts "tools" - because I want them to still speak to me - they fit into this character because this knowledge is an optional extra that makes a writer's life easier - or turns it into a total bloody nightmare. What is an expert opinion? An expert opinion is research involving a living, breathing person, as opposed to a book, documentary, website, journal article, etc. That person may be a universally-recognised expert (e.g. an academic specialising in forensics) or may have gained knowledge through personal or professional experience (e.g. a police officer working a rural beat). Why use...
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