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Home > Consulting

Have Writer's Questions?

Stephens has answers.

     For today's writer, information is accessible as never before. There is a mind-boggling array of books, magazines, and internet sites from which to locate facts that make our stories and characters real.

     That's what we're all looking for, right? Authenticity--that little known fact that will make our story world real--that certain phrase that will render our characters believable.

     Authenticity is important to writers of any genre. However, finding and presenting facts is not enough. Building a world in which these facts exist and operate, realistically, requires a bit more.

     Readers want to experience a writer's world through the senses of its characters. Incorrect or incomplete information may interrupt this experience, halting the flow of the story. It may even stop the reading of the story.

     It's irritating to read a book or watch a movie and think, "She would never do that." Unless the author makes it clear that what she's doing is a mistake, and not the way things are really done, that author has diminished the experience of many readers.

     Conversely, it's gratifying to detect the ring of authenticity, such as an officer's correct use of the 10-code, or the way an officer, who has worn a utility (or Sam Brown) belt for years, walks with arms wide to accommodate its bulk--even when out of uniform (this is a dead give-away to a suspect, and one of the mannerisms undercover agents work to lose).

     Many "worlds" have shown the police officer, or agent, placing a weapon on the ground at the demand of the bad guy. He holds a knife to his partner's throat. Of course the officer surrenders his gun. Right? Wrong. Law enforcement officers, on every level, are taught to never give up their weapons.

     I'm reminded of a movie in which someone draws a gun on a federal agent's partner. She shoots, aiming to "wound" the assailant. Wrong again. Nobody shoots to wound. Officers are taught to draw their weapon for one reason--to shoot into the body's center mass. Officers spend hourson the range, increasing the odds that they will revert to training when under fire. Though often taught to call their actions "shooting to stop", officers know that they're shooting into the kill zone. An assailant who draws a gun is doing the same.

      Books and movies are full of inaccuracies. People get away with it, mainly, because the rest of their work is good. Some see this as artistic license. However, failure to present a story based on solid research breaks the contract between reader and writer--the promise that the reader will get a good book of any type in whose world thehe/she can be immersed.

     Other elements are involved in world-building, but, authenticity is an essential ingredient. Write your characters as they really are. Get it right--even the small stuff such as uniforms, vehicles, procedure, and the chain of command.

     Portray the men and women on the front lines of our cities as the quirky, courageous, flawed human beings that they are, and you'll keep your story flowing. Your world will be one in which the reader can enter, step into the character's shoes, wade up to his eyeballs, then exit without having to say, "Nobody would ever do that."

     I am happy to discuss how I may help with your project, whether it involves a single question, a scene or an entire manuscript. 

TESTIMONIALS -- Read what others have to say about Sheila's presentations.


Have Law Enforcement Questions?

Stephens has answers for sworn personnel and for those responsible
for their training.

 A scholar in contemporary Criminal
Justice Issues, Stephens is
available to speak and consult
on most any subject.

 Stephens also has answers for the public sector about business, home and personal security. 

The security of children and the elderly are top priorities for her, and
for the staff of SaferSecurity, Inc. 

Her passion to keep these most vulnerable members of our population safe has lead to much research
in this area.  

Send her your questions.  Each one
will be answered in a timely manner, and many will be published on this site for the benefit of others.

Even questions about the safety of your pet will receive a response!
If Stephens doesn't know the answer, she will find it for you.


Have Law Enforcement   Questions?


Sheila has answers



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