Right Word, Wrong Word . . . Right?

Some manuscripts/stories offer bare-bones details and descriptions.  That tends to lean toward flatness . . . a story that doesn’t have much oomph.  To be engaging, there should be a certain level of information that provides mental images/pictures that enable readers to envision what’s transpiring.  No, we don’t need to know every detail about a character or setting, but it helps if we have a decent sketch.

Using the right words—like adjectives and adverbs—helps with that sketch.  But, as we know, all things in moderation.  You don’t want to add so many that the manuscript/story has the opposite effect: instead of bare bones, there’s info overload.

    • Bare bones: “I see Mr. Montague was murdered with a knife,” Inspector Rawlins said, looking down at the body on the floor.
    • Too many bones: “I see poor Mr. Montague, the town’s banker, was brutally murdered with a boning knife comprised of 31 layers of chrome stainless steel, which clearly penetrated his frail heart,” Inspector Rawlins dramatically declared as he pointed a scarred finger at the crumpled body lying face-down on the red-and-green linoleum floor that had seen many decades pass.
    • Happy Medium: “I see Mr. Montague was murdered with a boning knife,” Inspector Rawlins said solemnly.  He scratched his stubbled chin as he studied the middle-aged banker lying face-down on the linoleum floor.

Speaking of bones, one bone of contention [debatable, of course] is word usage.  Some writers make verbs out of nouns, or vice versa.  Sometimes, it’s doable, given the action or dialogue.  Certainly characters—well defined ones <clearing of throat>—have accents, speech impediments, phrases/words that are central to them.  So, yes, words may be used incorrectly because that assists in painting a picture of a given character.  What doesn’t work?  Using words that aren’t right . . . as in incorrect.

This can happen when a writer decides to consult a thesaurus to replace a word but doesn’t consider the definition, or simply uses a word he/she thinks might work (or sound good).

Quick examples:

    • She looked at Lee.  “I won’t leave you, ever,” she intimated.
    • To intimate generally means to hint or imply or provide information indirectly.  It shouldn’t be used to make an outright statement.
    • Tom watched Marshall and Beatrice hurry to the cabin.  He wondered.
    • That’s wonderful that he wondered—but what about?  Some words require a little “wrapping” to make them complete.
    • The group departed, leaving them alone at the town’s edge.  She waved and mused, and headed back.
    • Maybe she mused about the group departing, maybe about being at the edge of town . . . maybe what she’d have for dinner.  Who knows?  Maybe that musing isn’t even central to the action or story—and if it’s not central, then don’t keep it.

A story should captivate the reader from the get-go.  Nothing new there.  Words paint pictures, create images, show what we can’t see . . . use them wisely . . . use them well.  😉

Have a Gobbling Good Time

Here’s to a wonderful—gratitude-filled—Thanksgiving weekend to those in the northern hemisphere.

Observed the second Monday in October, since 1957, the “harvest festival” is a time to show appreciation, not just for bountiful harvests, but all the things, friends and family, we have in our lives.

 Quick history . . . Thanksgiving in Canada has actually been celebrated since 1879 but prior to 1957, it wasn’t on a given day and there was always a theme associated with it.  Apparently, the first celebration was three hundred years prior, when Martin Frobisher—for those of you who remember your Canadian history classes—traveled from England in search of that elusive Northwest Passage (the sea route connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, which is some 1,424,500 km and lies north of the Canadian mainland).

More days (feasts) of thanks took place, courtesy of French settlers who’d voyaged with Samuel de Champlain in the early seventeenth century.  During and following the American Revolution, American immigrants who’d migrated to Canada brought along their Thanksgiving traditions and practices—like indulging in that delicious gobbler (sorry, my vegan friends) and sweet spicy pumpkin pie.

It is rather interesting, history, but I digress.  The purpose of this post is short and sweet,  Enjoy a fantastic (!) long weekend, delight in and appreciate all life has offered—and continues to offer.  Never take anything, or anyone, for granted.

Have a gobbling good Thanksgiving!

Hoorah for Infinitesimal Details

I love editing.  It offers an opportunity to read authors who’ll succeed at gathering fans and making bestseller lists.  And it’s great to be there from the beginning to see their careers take off.  It also provides a chance to help aspiring writers—if they want it—to develop their craft.  Some are “naturals”, some are not.  It’s all good, though.  You become as good, as great, as you want to be if you’re willing to go the distance.  This means learning and applying what you learn.

As we well know, it’s [usually] the opening chapter or prologue that will grab readers and keep them wanting to read.  As such, it should be strong, compelling, and reel in readers like a seasoned fisherman bringing in a sailfish.  Countless “he said” and “she said” dialogue tags won’t do it.  Nor will a John-did-this-and-then-did-that style.  The show-don’t-tell approach isn’t terribly gripping, though some may debate that and that’s fine (to each his/her own).

Let’s focus on what does prompt readers to continue reading.  First and foremost: details (descriptions).  I’ve used the painting picture analogy before, but it’s a viable one.  When you draw images for readers—describe characters, reveal emotions, detail locations—your story comes alive.

I’m writing the sixth Triple Threat Investigation Agency book and, given disco plays a part in it, I’ve been listening to the music and catching the odd movie.  One that so perfectly “describes” what a movie and character are all about in the opening credits is Saturday Night Fever.  It’s one I’d recommend for writers to see how details—infinite infinitesimal ones—can paint a fabulous, vibrant picture.  Those types of details can easily be applied in an opening chapter or prologue.

The Bee Gees sing a catchy tune (marking a distinct period in music history) as we view various shots of NYC, including the subway.  Tony Manero swings a can of paint as he strolls along a Brooklyn sidewalk with a confident swagger.  We see stores and everyday people.  It’s not a rich neighborhood.  He sports a not-one-hair-out-of-place coif and fairly decent daytime clothes: black leather jacket, burgundy polyester shirt, and well-shined leather shoes.  A large gold cross hangs from his neck.  He eyes pretty women.  Stopping at Penny’s Pizza, he grabs two slices and chows down as he continues walking.  He sees a shirt in a shop and pays $5 to put it on layaway.  Finally, he arrives at a hardware store.

What have we gleaned from those details?  We know the setting is NYC.  Our main character most likely lives there.  He’s cocky and thinks himself a lady’s man.  He cares about his appearance (we see him comparing his shoes to a pair in a window).  Given the neighborhood, the $5 for the layaway, and the pizza, we can assume his finances are limited.  The paint can may mean he’s going to paint something at home, or he’s a painter who’s not working at that moment.  

If we were applying this to paper [or laptop], we could flesh it out more.  Not by [too] much.  We don’t need to inundate readers with an overabundance of facts.  We simply provide enough—yes, the infinitesimal details—to paint that defining picture.

Anything Goes

In sci-fi and fantasy, and any genres in between.

The notion came about as an acquaintance and I were having a casual discussion about writing and genres.  As a sci-fi fan, she commented how these genres can allow for easy outs when plot twists or endings prove difficult; you could pretty much throw in any scenario, one that would never work (or be believable) in “real world” fiction.

These genres offer opportunities to compose stories that may not always have that rational or coherent a segue or ending.  There have been five grisly murders in the deserted, desolate Folle house.  Alas, not only do they have the budding detective scratching their head, the killings have the author scratching theirs.  Ah!  Maybe a demon lives in the cellar?  Or perhaps the place is a gathering place for evil aliens?  And what about poor Jean-Paul?  The young man is falling over a high cliff, knowing he’ll contact those boulders below within seconds—and, man, is that going to hurt.  Why not have someone—something—catch his fall?  Off he goes, to another world and an exciting adventure, where anything is possible.  The sky, literally, is [not] the limit.

Sci-fi and fantasy, and any genres in between allow for a myriad of scene/chapter possibilities.  Action, doings, and goings-on don’t have to be logical, which empowers a very creative [inventive] imagination to run wild—so, anything truly does go.

111clipartlibrary111111Writing, however, is no walk in the park.  Regardless of genre, penning a story can prove [exceptionally] difficult.  Plotting, appropriate character sketches, detailed settings, and vivid descriptions are part and parcel of constructing a viable story.  Keying words is one thing; making them meld to create an entertaining read is another.  But given the process is a labor-of-love for us writers, we’re up to the challenge(s).  😉

Ensure there’s logic—even in the illogic—and know that as the author, you hold the reigns.  Truly, anything goes.

Me Day, You Day, Any Day is a Good Day . . .

Like many, I often feel a need to take a me day, a vacay day, a holiday—any day reserved solely to relax—but work and life always manage to get in the way.  😉

As soon as it appears it might be doable, something comes along, such as an essential task, necessary errand, crucial project, or urgent situation.  And then there are commitments, like posting on the ol’ blog on set days.  As the saying goes, however, it’s all good.  Well, most of the time.  LOL

Given I haven’t had a me day in years (decades, as it were), I got to thinking about what the perfect me day might be.

It would entail (in no order of relevance):

    • ignoring commitments
    • forgetting about emails and messages and texts (once you get pulled into those, you’re a goner for hours—at least, I am)
    • turning off all phones (I have three too many)
    • eating fun/comfort food while sitting in front of the TV [finally] watching a show/series time hasn’t allowed for previously
    • noshing on [a big bowl of] ketchup chips
    • avoiding all forms of exercise
    • not noticing dust or lint, or crumbs, veiling the floor or rug
    • wearing a big, loose T-shirt and fluffy socks1PNGkey
    • forgoing on make-up
    • scratching a couple of scratch-and-win tickets
    • watching the birds on the balcony
    • taking a nap (what a novel concept).

The list makes for perfect me day—in my dreams. That’s okay, though.  Nothing wrong with imagining what might be.  In fact, taking the time to consider it is rather restful in itself.

If you have an opportunity for a you day, grab it, and enjoy.  And on that note, back to work for yours truly.  Let’s see, what to tackle first . . . 😉

A Great Big Thank You (!) to Jina S. Bazzar

. . . for featuring me on her awesome blog (September 23 2022).

I’m not just going to provide the link here, I’m going to cut and paste the post as well because, well, I’m tickled pink and am feeling a need to share.😊

https://authorsinspirations.wordpress.com/2022/09/23/meet-the-author-tyler-colins/comment-page-1/#comment-8594

1jina

Thank you ever so much, Jina—you’re not just a great writer and blogger, you’re a great friend. 

SEPTEMBER 23, 2022 BY JINA BAZZAR

Meet the author: Tyler Colins

Hi peeps. I’ve decided to start a segment in this blog by introducing other indie authors I know and enjoy.

I’m opening  it with a dear friend and author, Tyler Colins. We met a few years back here in the blogosphere, and have been friends ever since.

So, without any further ado, let’s start.

A brief bio:

Tyler Colins

Tyler Colins is primarily a writer of fiction and blog posts, and a sometimes editor and proofreader of books, manuals, and film/television scripts. She’ll also create business plans, synopses, film promotion and sales documents.

Fact-checking and researching, organizing and coordinating are skills and joys (she likes playing detective and developing structure).

Her fiction audience: lovers of female-sleuth mysteries. Her genres of preference: mysteries (needless to say), women’s fiction, informative and helpful “affirmative” non-fiction.

She aims to provide readers with smiles and chuckles like the ever-talented Janet Evanovich and the sadly passed and missed Lawrence Sanders, the “coziness” of Jessica Fletcher, and a few diversions and distractions as only long-time pros Jonathan Kellerman and Kathy Reichs can craft.

And now, the interview (read to the end for an excerpt of Can You Hula Like Hilo Hattie)

Q: What inspired you to become an author?  And why Hawaii?

A: As an only child with a mother and father who didn’t really have time or support for me as parents tend to, I had to find my own source of “play”.  I started drawing and writing.  My grade 7 teacher, Mr. Kennedy, loved a short story I had written and read it to the class.  I had no idea I had any talent.  That afternoon made me look at myself as something more than a friendless, lonely kid.  Little ’ me was actually good at something.  I started writing . . . and writing . . . and writing.  The rest, as the saying goes, is history.

I fell in love with Hawaii the first time I stepped foot on Oahu.  It wasn’t that I saw “Paradise” there (because, off the tourist track, it has its issues as most places do), but that I felt a connection to the history and spirituality.  I felt like I belonged.  There wasn’t anywhere I wouldn’t go; I felt no fear or anxiety.  And when I began the sequel to The Connecticut Corpse Caper, which was initially intended to be a stand-alone, Hawaii seemed the perfect place to have my three private eyes move to.  Even if I can’t live there—given laws and finances and all that—Hawaii is my home . . . in heart and soul.

Q: What do you think is the most difficult part about writing, and how do you motivate yourself to continue?

A: For me, the most difficult thing about being a writer is finding the time to write.  Mom-care still takes up a few hours, most days, and the full-time job isn’t your usual eight-hour day.  Freelance editing also detracts (but I’d not give up editing for anything because I do so love it).  One day, hopefully, I’ll find a way to juggle time more constructively.

I can’t say I “motivate” myself.     I simply do.

Q: It’s a strange and tough world out there. Do you find that it hinders or improves your writing?

A: It is indeed.  The state of affairs around the world can be daunting and/or depressing.  Some days, it can weigh heavily; you wonder (worry) that those state of affairs will never improve but, then, bursts of hope and faith—like a double Hawaiian rainbow—take over.  And you think, believe, hey, maybe things will turn out all right after all.  I wouldn’t say exterior forces hinder my writing, nor improve it.  But they may provide ideas for scenes or twists in plots.

Q: What is your favorite way to relax?

A: LOL – I haven’t found one yet.  Well, I shouldn’t say that.  When I get to Hawaii, that’s where I find ways to relax . . . strolling along a beach, splashing in the ocean, finding a fun farmer’s market, or enjoying shave ice while sitting on a rock by the water’s edge.

Q: Do you read your own books after they’re published? If not, why not?

A: I haven’t read my books after they’ve been published per se.  But when I require an excerpt for a post, then I will scan one or two of them to find the perfect one.  I think the reason I’m not inclined to read them from front to end is that I might discover typos or something that didn’t gel.  Then I’d spend the week or month kicking myself repeatedly.

I believe one of my favorite excerpts is from Can You Hula Like Hilo Hattie? when JJ and Cash’s budding “relationship” starts to take off . . . or not . . .

Q: If you were to become the mc of the last book you read, who would you be and where?

A: I edit a lot of books, but I don’t read a lot of books . . . save for, believe it or not, the odd Nancy Drew book.  I pick one from the pile in the closet if I’m going to ride the stationary bike in the fitness room.  It’s an easy read and it takes me back to simpler times—when I was kid living in (escaping to) my little world.  I always wanted to be Bess or George, never Nancy.  She always seemed so perfect and privileged, and for a little kid being caught up in a not so perfect or privileged world, I couldn’t relate to it.  But I’d love to be involved in one of their mysteries.  My favorites were The Haunted Showboat and The Secret of the Wooden Lady, so the setting of either one would be very “Keene”.  LOL

111hula1Excerpt for Can You Hula Like Hilo Hattie

“No stitches required, fortunately.”

Linda propped Cash’s head on a fit thigh and continued to dab a tiny sponge on an open cut above the right eyebrow. “But he’s going to have one big headache, a knob on his temple, and probably a scar. Perfect timing, me stopping by. If Makjo hadn’t taken the afternoon off, you’d be the one administering medical aid.”

He stirred twice, but was having difficulty opening his eyes.

“Fortunately, you’re here,” I smiled wryly, “and you have first aid certification.”

“So will you and Rey after next month.”

Linda had taken first aid and CPR training last summer while still in California. Rey and I had discussed doing something similar upon arrival on Oahu. As professional private investigators, first aid was at the top of the list, but other courses like investigative techniques and interviewing methods were also on the agenda.

“Who is this guy? I don’t think you’ve mentioned knowing someone this hunky.” Digging through a kit, she located antiseptic cream and a large bandage.

“He has different names. Cash. Richie J. Richard. He’s a drug dealer.”

Linda stopped and searched his face. “Really?”

“He doesn’t look like one?” I asked drolly.

“I’ve never met one before.”

“Damn.” He winced, and brought a hand to his forehead. “What happened?”

“You got beaned by our favorite beaner,” Linda explained merrily, gently applying cream to the wound before applying the bandage. “She can pack a mighty wallop.”

He squinted upward. “Who are you?”

“Linda Royale.” She peered so closely, they were nearly nose to nose. “I hear you’re a drug dealer.”

A flummoxed gaze shifted from her face to mine. I was standing behind Linda, looking down, hoping the damage was minor enough not to do any serious or permanent damage, but major enough to make him think twice about entering the condo uninvited again. “Did I deserve that? Bitch.”

If looks could kill. “Watch the name calling,” I trilled, getting a glass of water and passing it to Doctor Linda.

She supported his head and got him to drink a third of the glass. “Do you deal locally or on the Mainland, as well? Do you hobnob with guys who have the status of the once-super-rich-and successful ‘Freeway’ Rick Ross and Amado ‘Lord of the Skies’ Fuentes?”

He eyed her as if she were as demented as Norman Bates’ mother.

“Oh, sorry. You probably don’t want to share your criminal life with us. That’s okay.” Linda smiled and he closed his eyes in a give-me-strength cast. “Let’s get you upright.” She assisted him into a more vertical position.

He noticed her dressing. “Did she bean you, too?”

Linda instinctively touched the binding on her head. “This is courtesy of a creep I had the displeasure of not meeting last night.”

“She got dinged by a psycho,” I said simply.

His expression suggested he wasn’t buying it.

Get a copy! https://www.nextchapter.pub/books/can-you-hula-like-hilo-hattie

Connect with Tyler Colins here:

https://www.audible.ca/author/Tyler-Colins/B01KHOZAL2

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14150735.Tyler_Colins

https://twitter.com/usbound3/

https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=Tyler%20Colins

https://ca.linkedin.com/in/tyler-colins-24833326

The Art of Perfectin’ . . . or Playin’ the Blues with Soul

The title popped into my head as I was watching Joe Bonamassa a few nights ago.  Joe, for those not in the know, is a blues rock guitarist, singer, and songwriter.  His career’s pretty impressive; starting at age twelve, he opened for the awesome B.B. King.  Anyway, the post’s not about Joe—maybe another time 😉—but about artists perfecting their trade.

How does one segue from playing the blues to improving a craft?  It’s not that far a stretch.  I was considering how well he played, which made me ponder how musicians constantly aim to entertain and please audiences.  They strive to do/offer their best.  Over time, they refine.  They perfect . . . or play the blues with soul and conviction . . . a metaphor, of sorts.

All passionate artists aim to be the best they can be.  As a writer, I revise constantly to improve my work.  As an editor, I amend to help make other works as good as they can be.  Poets, painters, puppeteers, and performers [love alliteration] . . . those that truly care . . . polish words and riffs and moves.

It’s a labor of love, this repetition that aims for perfection.  Nothing is “great” the first time.  All projects and persons are works [of art] in motion.  So, it’s imperative to keep striving . . . and keep playin’ the blues with soul.

Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence.    Colin Powell

The List: Every Writer’s Friend

You’re writing a book.  You’re loving it.  It’s great.  Hemingway would pat you on the back.  Christie would applaud your twists and turns.  . . . Your readers are scratching their heads.  When/how did Monty’s wife, Judith, become Barbara?  Cara was living in a flat in Chelsea.  How’d she end up in Greenwich?

Accuracy and consistency are important.  Both lend themselves to professionalism, something every writer—aspiring or published—should embrace.  There’s nothing more off-putting than reading something and finding it filled with irregularities . . . also known as glaring mistakes.

You want people to remember you and your work—for the right reasons.

I believe in lists and summaries.  But that’s so much more work!  I hear the groans.  Yes, it is, yet not really.  If you set up a chart, you only need add a few words here and there.  In that chart, you list points, ideas, descriptions.

1clipartlibrary (1)Having a list for characters—in my humble opinion—is necessary.  Note each one’s name (!), appearance, traits, idiosyncrasies, and significant events that made them what they are.  A quick example:

 JOHN SMITH

    • pale blue eyes, wavey blond hair below the ears, chubby at 5’7”
    • 38 years old; born in London; parents dead (mother hit by car when he was 10; father died from colon cancer)
    • likes dogs, hates cats (with a passion)
    • is a teacher by day, killer by night . . .

You get the idea.  The same holds true for a summary.  Have a list that breaks down chapters into scenes and note what happens.  It will help not have David finding Jessie’s body in a well in Chapter 3 and then finding Jessie’s body in a cellar in Chapter 10.  😉

Again, the summary / chapter list can be quite simple, a few words here and there.  Something like this works:

CHAPTER 4, SCENE 3    October, Thursday 10:30 a.m. – breezy and cloudy / Jeremy meets with Lester at a beachside bar; they theorize about the murder (how did the body end up in the cave / what is the significance of the star etched into the victim’s forehead / why can’t they determine the identity of the victim).

A summary / chapter list will help you see how your plot and book have progressed.  It will be simpler to determine if something is missing or seems incomplete.

Holes in a garment can be fixed; holes in a published book not so much.  A list for a writer can prove your best friend.  It won’t let you down.  😊

What’s in a Name?

Not much if—as writers—we use it so frequently that it detracts from the storyline.  It’s like overusing the comma, dash, hyphen, or “he said” and “she said”.  Overuse of anything lends itself to tedium.

There are many great storylines out there, but they get lost through repetition.  If readers find a multitude of references to good ol’ Roger on one page, they may not be tempted to read through to the end.  That’s not only a loss for the writer, it’s a downright shame.

Yes, editors help—it depends on the type of editing as much as it does on the editor.  He/she may comment on the redundancy, but not change it or offer examples of how to approach the story with a fresh(er)/crisp(er) slant.

“Hi there,” Ron said with a smile and placed down the coffee cup onto the table in front of the window by the door in the small room.

Julie said nothing. She simply turned to Ron and stared into Ron’s grass-green eyes.

Ron noticed rue of some kind in Julie’s baby-blue eyes. “What’s wrong?” Ron asked, his voice filled with genuine concern. Ron walked across the room to stand before Julie’s chair and hold her hand, but Julie yanked back her hand.

Mistrust was now reflected in Julie’s eyes. Julie stood up and walked to the far corner of the small room, away from the window. Ron smiled dissarmingly, hoping Julie would feel less threatened.

Julie sat down in the other chair in the corner of the small room and Ron walked over to sit on the rug before Julie.

Rather long, given the action, and repetitive.  If we had a dollar for each time we read Ron or Julie’s name, we’d have a nice fat wallet.  Maybe something exciting, frightening, or romantic is about to occur.  But given the repetition, are we that eager to find out?  If there are 20+ mentions of Ron and 24+ references to Julie on one page, would you be tempted to read on for very much longer?  It suggests lack of professionalism and/or care on the writer’s part.

Maybe we can shorten it and make it less tiresome to get through?

“Hi there,” Ron smiled, placing the coffee cup on the table by the window near the door in the small room.

Julie said nothing, simply turned to him and stared into his grass-green eyes.

He noticed rue in those baby-blue eyes. “What’s wrong?” he asked as he walked over to her chair, his voice filled with genuine concern.

When he took her hand, she yanked it back.

Mistrust clouded Julie’s eyes and she stood up and walked to the far corner, taking a seat on the only other chair.

Ron smiled disarmingly, and walked over to sit on the rug before her.

A little better, but still needs work.  How about we rearrange a bit more and add the odd adjective or adverb to give it more pizzazz?  And what genre might this be, so we rearrange/add accordingly?  Suspense perhaps?

“Hi there,” Ron smiled blithely as he entered the small dimly-lit room, placing the porcelain coffee cup on the table by the narrow window.  Seeing a large hairy spider scurrying across the top, he slammed his palm on it.

Julie said nothing, simply turned to him, her face expressionless, and stared into his grass-green eyes.  

Rue was reflected in those lovely baby-blue orbs. “What’s wrong?” he asked worriedly as he walked over, his voice filled with concern.  Crouching, he took her slim hand in his.

Feeling the remnants of the crushed spider, Julie yanked hers back, mistrust clouding her eyes. She lurched to her feet and stomped to the far corner and sat in the only other chair.

Ron sighed softly, wondering how he might win over this troubled young woman who’d murdered easily and often.  Smiling disarmingly, and donning an expression of humility, he walked over and sat on the threadbare rug before her.

Writing takes practice.  So does proofreading and editing.  And there’s nothing wrong with writing a story or book without looking back while doing so.  But do make sure to revisit it—with a critical eye, not a writer’s ego.

There’s no quality in quantity when the same names (words and phrases) are used in [over]abundance.  But there is quality in quantity when a number of revisions are made—to make a story the best that it can be.

The Facts, and Nothing but the Facts

. . . Or “ma’am, just the facts” as Sergeant Joe Friday [actually] said in the 1950s TV show, Dragnet. Whether writing fiction or nonfiction: know your facts.  Accuracy is a must.

Devices and gadgets, events and activities, fashion and customs, music and art, phrases and expressions (among others) must be correct for the time/period being written in.  Stories are made to entertain.  Facts are meant to inform.  Exactitude is vital . . . so is [a writer’s] credibility.

If you’re writing a western or historical novel that takes place in the middle of the 18th century, it’s likely people didn’t have tissues or ballpoint pens.  Women wouldn’t have worn brassieres and men wouldn’t have known about boxer shorts.  One-hundred-and-fifty years ago, it’s improbable that a person would have said, “that’s so cool” except maybe if referring to the weather.  They’d not have said “sweet” unless commenting about a dessert or fruit.  Become familiar with the period of time being written in.

If you’re writing a story that takes place present day and are using real places, ensure the details are accurate/correct.  Don’t mention that John went to a concert at Massey Hall in Toronto and have it located on the other side of town.  A real place should be in its actual location.  If your story is set in a city or country you’ve never been to, acquaint yourself with it.  Anything related to the here and now—and the story—should be properly (accurately) detailed.  Quoting someone?  Sure, have at it, but ensure the quote is correct.

That holds true of any genre, including fantasy and sci-fi.  Granted, you may be able to stretch some truths, given these worlds don’t [yet] exist 😉 but you’ll likely be incorporating some technical or scientific details.  You may even refer to events or inventions that lead to the creation of your future/other world, so it never hurts to become familiar with technology or science.  Research is never a waste of time (at the very least, you’ve learned something new).

The example above—“ma’am, just the facts”—is how Friday said it and not the way we often use it or see it: “the facts and nothing but the facts”.  This brings us to something that you may want to do and not leave to an editor, who may not always cast that critical an eye: fact-check.  This process verifies that information is factual and ensures the story/writing is correct and concise.

You can fact-check as you go along in your writing or do it at the end of the first/last draft; determine what works best for you.  My process is that I’ll write a scene, edit it, and note what I’d like to expand on, like a setting or dwelling, clothing, whatever.  Say one of my characters is attending a luau. If I want readers to get a taste of what that entails, I’ll research luaus—preparations required, types of food and entertainment, locations (where might they take place), and so forth.  I may have read pages (!) of details but, in the end, only write a couple of paragraphs.  But that piece of writing will be descriptive . . . and accurate.  😉

Get facts straight.  For all intents and purposes, your fictional world is the real world to a reader. Don’t disappoint them by having glaring errors.  And don’t disappoint yourself by not having done [provided] the best [most accurate] work that you could have.

Judy Hogan Writes

ramblings of an apprentice author

The Nightingale

Maria Konnel - Youg Adult Fantasy Author

Avisha Rasminda

Hi, I'm Avisha Rasminda Twenty One years old, Introduce Myself As A Author , Painter , A Poet.

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KRISHNA KUMAR SINGH

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Fantasylife

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JOURNEY towards the Perfect Communicator

Hi! I'm Rev. Fr. John Mark, Religious Priest, Spiritual Director of SLRP Youth Ministry

RovingBookwormNG

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Joan Wiley

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Judy Hogan Writes

ramblings of an apprentice author

The Nightingale

Maria Konnel - Youg Adult Fantasy Author

Avisha Rasminda

Hi, I'm Avisha Rasminda Twenty One years old, Introduce Myself As A Author , Painter , A Poet.

Random Ramblings

Random rants, musings and opinions that nobody asked for :)

KRISHNA KUMAR SINGH

KNOWLEDGE AND TIPS

J. P. D. T.

Blogs, Stories, and Poetries

MisaeMich :)

...inspiration through words...

Fantasylife

Don't forget to be awesome!

JOURNEY towards the Perfect Communicator

Hi! I'm Rev. Fr. John Mark, Religious Priest, Spiritual Director of SLRP Youth Ministry

RovingBookwormNG

Books. Poetry. Podcast. Travel.

The Wild Heart of Life

Creative Nonfiction & Poetry

Wise & Shine

A community for writers & readers

She Got Wings!

Self-development

A Holistic Journey

Finding my way back out of motherhood -- while mothering

Joan Wiley

Wayward Writer