Nobody can know everything about everything. Any author who claims to write everything without help is either a liar or doesn’t write outside their scope of expertise. The best kind of writing, I think, is a collective effort. It should push the author to explore realms previously unexplored, worlds they’re maybe unfamiliar with, technologies and situations that are alien to their quotidian existence.
I have lots of friends I question on a regular basis when I’m writing. I have a friend who has a law background who helps me sound really smart whenever I’m dealing with anything to do with the law. I have another friend who’s a locksmith, who was kind enough to answer my many questions on lock picking and hot wiring cars. Another friend still who knows and loves all things guns, and a former SWAT officer who has kindly volunteered to read my future police scenes to make sure they check out.
These people aren’t getting paid, they just love talking about their interests. It’s pretty cool listening to them go on in more detail than I’ll ever be able to use, because it expands my field of familiarity and makes me sound super smart in my books (thanks, guys!).
I’m working on a scene in my newest book where my hero takes an armored school bus off roading in pursuit of a villain. I was writing the scene, making things up as I went along, when I realized I knew who could help me make the scene even better. My brother. My little brother loves off roading and has extensive knowledge about cars and trucks, so I sent him a brief email asking for input.
He immediately sent over a detailed response, with a whole host of new possibilities I hadn’t even considered before. I couldn’t have come up with them on my own, not unless I spent a whole bunch of time researching. Now the scene is going to be factually accurate and also a whole lot more intense, and all because I’m fortunate enough to know a guy who knows off roading.
That’s the best thing about knowing interesting people who have interesting hobbies. They add richness and detail to life. I guess I’m just luckier than most to know so many interesting (and helpful!) people.