Friday, April 7, 2017

A to Z: Check Your Facts

2017 THEME: Editing Fiction (Because that's what I'm in the middle of doing.)

What is the Blogging from A to Z challenge and where can I find more participants? Right here.



Checking your Facts is yet another step of the editing process. Beyond doing research, if your story requires it, I'm talking about making sure one and one equal two all the way through your novel. This pass is best to do after you've had some time away from your piece so you can visit it with fresh eyes.

Six guys walk into the bar, but only five are involved in the brawl you write once they get inside.

Her name is Sara at the beginning of the novel, but Sarah by the end.

It was morning when they left the city. Eight hours have passed on our adventures and now we're sitting down to a tasty lunch and no one is overly hungry.

A space ship attaches to another and attacks. It is defeated. The war goes on. Are we flying around with that thing still attached?

Your character was grievously injured, but in the next scene they are fine. It's a miracle!

Your character sleeps naked. They get up suddenly from bed to deal with a situation, and no one says anything...or maybe you should give them a second to get dressed.

There are a myriad of these little details throughout a story that need to be looked over. Does everyone's hair/skin/eyes remain the same color? Do they magically change clothes during scenes? Did that important thing in the pocket of their coat, suddenly appear in the pocket of their pants when they needed it?

Is your spiffy technology accessed by a hand print on a panel in scene six or scan like in scene twenty-two?

Sometimes (very often) we get engrossed in writing and forget to keep track of these things. Which is why it's important to pay attention to them during your editing passes. Take notes. I have a notebook for just such a purpose while I'm editing, jotting down any names, facts and numbers that seem important as I read so that I can verify them throughout.

Now that you've seen some of my goofs, what's the biggest/funniest thing you've overlooked while writing?

I'd love to visit your blog and see what you're up to with the A to Z Challenge. Please be sure to leave a link with your comment.



21 comments:

  1. I'm writing a memoir on my depression and getting onto Prozac Inspired by reading Prozac Nation). I have yet to include much research, namely on dysthymia, the form chronic low-grade depression with which I was diagnosed. I'm trying to decide how much, if any, of this I need to include.

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    1. I would seem rather important to include the exact thing that you suffer from when writing about the thing you suffer from. ;)

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  2. I forget people's names big time. Hence I keep a few notes as I go. When I taught school I called the kids sweetie, sugar, etc. It wasn't Southern culture, I could not pull up everyone's name in my memory all the time.

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    1. That's hilarious! In person I'm horrible with names too.

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  3. The naked one!
    I just recently edited that with one of my MCs. I was like, "What is he wearing under that robe?! Mhmmm...maybe nothing?" And it's a children's story!

    Also, yes, on the names! But I have trouble more with physical description (i.e. hair/eye color, clothing, which scar his cheek was on, etc.)

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    1. Ha! Glad I'm not the only one with naked characters.

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  4. I am just doing that this week on a manuscript; I last looked at it in the fall, so I have fresh eyes, and catching quite a few of these small mistakes (as well as typos). Non-fiction also needs actual fact-checking, when I look up things to make sure the claims I made are still true... :D

    The Multicolored Diary: WTF - Weird Things in Folktales

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  5. Yes! And as we skip through the story tweaking things here and there, that sometimes causes this kind of problem. After a while it's hard to remember what has and hasn't been changed. I try to reread the story all the way through from the beginning a number of times through the writing process to hopefully minimize this.

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    1. Oh, I've learned that lesson the hard way. Yes! Read front to back. No skipping around allowed!

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  6. Oh Jean, you hit a sweet spot of mine that I preach incessantly. CONTINUITY MATTERS!! When I see this kind of thing in a television show or movie I get up and shout at the T.V.! Come on man!!! How could you let this happen?

    I am laying out the plot of a new historical fiction novel over my 26 A to Z posts. I’d love to have you stop by.

    The Steel Horse Saviors is a story about three civil war veterans who head west in 1866 with their Steam Locomotive to seek their fortune. They encounter a beautiful redhead trying desperately to save her family business that threatens to complicate their plan to escape their past.

    http://fictionplayground.wordpress.com

    Joe @ the Fiction Playground visiting from the A to Z Challenge

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  7. Names are my demon - especially if I've given a character a common name that can be spelt several ways - odds on I'll have used different spellings throughout the draft.
    Sophie
    Sophie's Thoughts & Fumbles - Dragon Diaries

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    1. Sometimes it takes me a whole novel of playing with the name to decide how I want to spell it. It makes for a fun find/replace adventure.

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  8. It helps to create a "Bible," especially with series, to keep track of some key facts in a manuscript. Also to ask beta readers to look for continuity issues (they'll always find something if they expect to). But it's often not this kind of "fact"--consistency across the manuscript--that can make you sweat quite like getting some real-world detail terribly wrong. That's when I try to seek out an expert, either someone I know or who is friend of a friend. A high school friend who became a firefighter and EMT helped me hugely with a key scene in my last novel. I didn't know about 3/4 of what paramedics do with smoke inhalation victims. She not only let me ask a thousand questions but also reviewed the scene for accuracy.

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  9. Oh, yes, so easy to get mixed up in the kind of fiction where everything is invented! I keep documents to record details of setting and characters for exactly this reason. My memory is flaky at the best of times!

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  10. That's a very important tip. It seems to be easier for a "second set of eyes" to catch errors such as these.

    operationawesome6.blogspot.com/

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  11. This was great, Jean, and so true. The ones that usually grab me are names and time of day.

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  12. Hi Jean - so easy to make mistakes ... but essential they are corrected ... cheers Hilary
    http://positiveletters.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/g-is-for-goose-gobbling-or-otherwise.html

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  13. It is easy to overlook these details when you are so wrapped up in the rest of the story. As a reader, I have stopped reading books over too many of these types of mistakes. Very important!

    Emily | AtoZ | My Life In Ecuador

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  14. Hello fellow A-to-Zer! Yes! I agree. One thing that weirds me out in lots of books is the following: The Hero or Heroine has had a hard night. S/he has been fighting crime until like 4 A.M. Finally, exhausted, this person goes to bed... and gets up three hours later, and doesn't even seem tired. This isn't exactly a mistake... but it does get improbable when it happens night after night, and they still seem totally fine.
    Thanks!
    Melanie Atherton Allen
    www.athertonsmagicvapour.com

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