Monday, November 28, 2011

Life is a Highway


Welcome back!  How was everyone’s week?   I admit that I didn’t do a lot of writing last week.  I was too busy taking care of sick kids, cooking a traditional thanksgiving meal, and helping The Engineer lay a wood floor in our basement.  I did get some reading time in.  It was very nice actually and I was able to catch up on my big TBR pile. 

One book I read had a huge “stop” moment for me.  As we know “stop” moments aren’t good in books.  They pull us out of the narrative and keep us from becoming involved.  It it’s bad enough it could keep us from finishing the book. 

In this book some people had driven to another city for a food festival.  On the way home they had a discussion about what road to take.  Not a big deal right?  It doesn’t have anything to do with plot, characterization, or story.  But the author got it wrong.  First off they were talking about a connector from two freeways that don’t actually meet.  Also the author had them going the wrong direction, they were supposed to be going north but they were going south. 

Many thousand people will never even blink at it.  They won’t know it’s wrong.  But it so happens that that is where I live.  The Engineer drives that stretch every day to and from work.  As I said it doesn’t affect the plot but it bothered me enough I had to stop reading for awhile.  I did finish the book but I had lost some trust in the author and reading, in essence, is all about a reader trusting the author and story. 

I hate that this bothered me because now I’m terrified.  What have I done wrong?  It’s impossible that I haven’t got anything wrong.  While my book is a fantasy, it’s a mild fantasy and the world is based on the mid 1800s.  While there are some things I have to change to make the story fit (it is fantasy after all) I want to be as accurate as possible so readers have something to connect to.  I know some historical authors that basically give themselves the equivalent to a master’s degree in whatever time period they write in.  I haven’t done that.  Yet.  Maybe I need to.

Do small things like this bug you or do you blow them off?  How far do you go to be accurate in your research?   

13 comments:

  1. Well, I guess you know by now that they bug me [g]
    There's a passage in Voyager - or is it DOA - that still trips me up because it sounds as though Roger's driving on the wrong side of the road (for England). But I'm never entirely sure, because I can't drive, and it's hard for me to picture things spacially. I must remember to read that passage next time I'm in a car in England...
    Other stuff, besides inaccuracies, that pull me out of a story are major head hops. Somehow I've gotten suckered into reading The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series (I'm supposed to be doing NaNo!) and there're a few scenes where one character reveals something to another character (whose pov we're in) and then suddenly we see the pov character's reaction through the eyes of the other character. What a cop out! I want to stay with the pov character and feel her reaction, not watch her from afar! Especially when I was in her head just two seconds ago!

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  2. Yea, you're the reason I'm scared :) I've done a good bit of research but I just don't know if it's enough. Hmmm, I'm going to have to look for that passage. There's one passage in Outlander where she has lunch twice in one day.

    I couldn't finish girl with the dragon tattoo. And I completely get you on the head hops. Didn't used to bother me so much but now it's like fingernails on a chalkboard.

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  3. I think if you know enough about the subject it can be a major turn off. I try to blow things like that off, but it's hard when you know the "truth." I know exactly what you're talking about. :)

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  4. Hey Leigh, cool name! I'm glad I'm not the only one that gets irritated by those little things. Like you I try not to let it interfere with the story.

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  5. They do bug me, but not nearly so much if it's fantasy, or a time period that I don't know well. I guess I research as much as is needed, but I never feel like I researched enough. Sometimes I just wish I had about ten different degrees so I could be an expert on it all!

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  6. This is why I read SF/F!!! Even so, the science has to plausibly work, and if it doesn't I tend to huff and puff and finish the story anyway but make a mental note to email the writer and, politely, let her/him know.

    I have had to let go of the 'did I miss anything' in my book. My publisher missed some of my corrections in the final proof (they're all fixed now ... I hope!) that were mostly typos, but as an author I'd welcome any feedback on missed stuff. Maybe your author would too.

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  7. Peggy, the knowledge of ten (or more)different degrees would be so amazing! I would want to make one of them a writing degree though.

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  8. Widdershins, sorry about the typos in your first run, I guess every author has things like that they would want to fix.

    I never even thought of emailing her to tell her of the inaccuracy. As an author I imagine I would want to know of things I had got wrong and since it's an honest correction not me being snarky it might be ok.

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  9. Sara,
    Talk about scared--try my WIP with current social system/child protection agency connections. Yikes! At least now I've got two connections to check it all out.

    And I cross my fingers a lot. ; )

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  10. You've got a hard one, especially since the rules can change year to year. That just means you need to hurry.

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  11. Is it weird that the only thing I'm really good at is copy editing? And yet I wonder if I could ever be objective enough with my own stories to catch every mistake. My eye tends to glaze over and see what I want to see, when it's my own work.

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  12. What about knitting? You're good at knitting. I don't think ANYONE can be objective enough with their own work. We've read it too many times and we know what we want it to say so that's usually what we see regardless of what is really there.

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  13. Ooh yes, knitting! I love knitting. It's suffered a bit in the last six months though, since I really started editing...

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