First drafts are notoriously full of factual errors, even if we’ve done a ton of research before starting the writing. Often, though, we think to ourselves that we need to “get the right info” on something, but by the time we’re done the book we’ve convinced ourselves we got it right… that the ‘fake’ or ‘on the fly’ information we used as a place-holder is good enough.
Trust me, it isn’t 😉
I’ve been lucky enough to start getting feedback from my trusted Beta readers on my new serial novel The Hollow Kiss, and this just happened to me. Only, I didn’t consciously say to myself, “Oh, it’s good enough.” I actually got so comfortable with the cop scenes I’d written, that I forgot I was going to call a cousin of mine (who’s a great cop) to run scenarios with him and get his advice.
A Beta reader noticed! Yes ~ this is very good.
One of my Beta reader’s has a brother in the military, so she has a keen eye for “lawful” things. There are a couple of scenes in my new book where the main character is questioned by a Detective but certain things said, and not said, sent up red flags. She pointed these moments out for me, cautiously since we reside in different countries, but she was spot on.
It’s time to take the time to get the facts straight.
So, I’m messaging my cousin to see if he has time for a chat session. Being a cop, he has crazy hours and is freaky-busy but he’s family… so I don’t mind asking for twenty minutes of his time.
What if you don’t have a source?
Find one. You can search online for people to talk to, just as you can for research information. Utilize Goodreads forums, facebook groups, writing sites, etc. Eventually you’ll find that gold-mine you’ve been looking for and can “get the facts” straight.
Even in fiction you need some facts. Unless it’s a totally made up world where anything goes. There will always be someone somewhere who notices that one little thing that isn’t quite right, and call you on it.
Without a doubt! Same is true for a completely made up world though… if you break or forget one of your own rules, readers will know and that spells nothing but trouble 😉
Great advice. Even when writing fiction, we have to be authentic. Whenever I’m writing a scene dealing with a specific profession, I try to find out as much as I can – in the ways you suggested. But you can’t please everybody. I remember a television programme that included an interpreter working with a Deaf person. The interpreting community were in uproar because of all the ‘mistakes’ and I remember thinking to myself (being an interpreter too)- you’re just being petty! It’s not possible to be one hundred percent accurate because there are personalities involved, unique situations and, at the end of the day, it’s a story. We have dramatic license 😉
Exactly! Creative License rules TV and Movies… books can do it to as long as it still falls within the scope of believably for the world we’ve created 😀 Thanks Mel!
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