Editing Tip #41

Fact Checking Foibles ~

Photo by peteoshea, Flickr

Photo by peteoshea, Flickr

Whether you write non-fiction or fiction in any of their glorious sub-categories or genres you will need to revisit your manuscript to make sure you’ve got your facts straight.

For non-fiction and memoir writers this is relatively straight forward. If you said “how to do” something, it better work; if you’ve given a link to a website, dido; if you’ve mentioned a date when something happened or will happen, it better be correct; and if you’re quoting people or facts make sure they’re attributed correctly with proper spelling and kudos to your sources. This can be laboursome and boring, but really, you don’t want to give the wrong information or tick-off someone important because of a silly error.

For fiction and creative non-fiction writers fact checking is not something to be sluffed-off. You do present facts in your writing from the shade of a character’s eyes, to where they grew up, or how they obtained their powers. All of these things and more need to remain consistent in your writing. Hopefully, even if you’re a pantser, you’ve kept a diary or journal of what you learned about your characters, their motivations, and the events of the story (especially the events since these might change dramatically from one draft to the next in the early phases of editing).

If you just rely on your memory to keep track of these important details, it might let you down and allow for mistakes in your manuscript. You need to force yourself to look at these relatively normal facts during one of your editing reads; and I say “force” because by now, you’re so close to your own work that your brain will try to trick you into believing that what should be there is all ready there.

I highly recommend that you ask someone to help you with this phase of your editing. Again, it can be a professional whose services you pay for but not necessarily. Someone who hasn’t yet read your work will innately pick up on whether or not you change your main character’s love interest’s eyes from green to blue halfway through your book or say that the source of their magic is fire ants instead of fire beetles.

If you haven’t yet started your ‘book of facts’ there’s no time like the present. You never know what you’ll find when scouring your work looking at what is there as opposed to what should be there.

Happy Editing!

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Categories: Editing

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