research

14. How I Wrote about Drones

Welcome to my blog about How I Wrote about Drones.

I knew nothing about drones until I was walking on the beach near my home. A man was using a drone to photograph the coast and as a writer and naturally curious, I stopped to speak to him. I was surprised when he told me no-one needs a license, that they weren’t expensive and that they were pretty easy to use.
My second interest in drones came from Helen Mirren’s film, EYE IN THE SKY. It’s contemporary, controversial and exciting. It piqued my interest.

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So, I researched drones and sent various emails to different companies and one amazing guy – Steve Pentleton from Hawkuav answered me almost immediately. He was very willing to help, so I sent him a list of my questions and he opened up a new world to me.

To write my book with authority, I needed those familiar ingredients: Credibility, Reliability, Authenticity so I prioritised the information I would need to bring scenes in my novel to life.

1. Descriptive pieces of the actual drone
2. What the drone’s capabilities were
3. The authentic language attached to using a drone

I also needed to be reassured by Steve that a drone could be used for the plot purpose I intended.

Steve read my long email and surprisingly, stayed in touch with me. He sent me video links of the Phantom 4 Drone, answered my questions and gave me links to support his answers. His knowledge encouraged my curiosity and my confidence to explore the drone’s capabilities to use it in more scenes.

In the opening scene Mikky is filming kitesurfing. This sets the tone for the novel and demonstrates how beneficial the drone can be in certain circumstances. Mikky then uses it in the port of Malaga to film the sunrise and the coast. Drones are increasingly used in tourism videos. Then later and more controversially, Mikky uses it to follow a suspect in Canterbury.

Drones are a tool that allows me to convey narrative and action, as well as creating suspense and excitement for the reader. The drone is used to heighten tension.

Will the battery life last?
Will Mikky be able to track her prey?
What can go wrong? How reliable will the drone be in the wind and the rain?
How will that affect Mikky’s plans?

When readers begin to ask these questions they’re hooked into the plot. They’re living and sharing the experience with my character.

Writing is about engagement and involvement with the reader.
Finally, writing about drones using authentic terminology can become clunky and clumsy, so I sent chunks of my manuscript to Steve who kindly waded through my draft and suggested changes or alternative expressions. This type of support from a gentleman whom I’ve never met and who asked for no payment in return was invaluable to me as an author.

It’s been reported that Amazon may be using drones as a future delivery system and I suspect over the coming years there will be many discussions on their use: for efficiency and delivery and when drones are used to spy on celebrities or invade people’s privacy. As with most technological advancements there is always a debate for both sides. Laws are made to control and regulate so that we hopefully we gain the benefits without the downside.

When is it alright to use a drone to spy on someone?
Will a jealous husband track his wife?  Will a wife follow her husband?

Would we be happy if our airwaves were filled with drones making deliveries or fearful that they may cause an accident? 

These are all good discussion points and worthy of consideration. Experts like Steve Pentleton who specialises in TV and film work uses the drone for legal and legitimate purposes.

In my novel Mikky treads a fine line – but does she breech the law?

REMEMBER: Don’t be afraid to ask the experts to check your work. Remember to thank those who help you and support you and give you the benefit of their experience. It’s invaluable.

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Next Blog Post: Less is More.

LINKS:
Eye in the Sky Trailer
Steve Pentleton
Amazon

Janet Pywell

 

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