Get the facts straight and keep them there, verify your sources, check and double check your information for accuracy. Keep your work fair and objective. Build trust with your audience. Wise words for writers to adhere to – if said writers are newspaper and/or digital reporters or television news analysts. It’s the same with biographers and those who pen non-fiction books, articles and papers.
But what about those who write stories to entertain? Those who create fiction? Authors of historical fiction certainly need to keep their bygone facts straight or the tales they write won’t seem authentic. In contemporary fiction, getting facts straight and keeping them there would apply when writing for a series with many other authors. Take the Class of ’85 books I wrote about the twenty-fifth high school reunion at a fictional high school in a fictional town. There were about fifteen other authors writing for that series. Our editor named the city Summerville; she then gave the place atmosphere with a triple A baseball farm club, hospital system and major hotel among other facilities. From there we had an authors’ loop where we came together on-line to create a schedule of events for the reunion week-end, map out streets and other landmarks, find out the names and professions of each other’s characters to use as friends in our own stories.
Bottom line, even in that venue, we had to keep our facts straight or compromise the integrity of the series. Obviously in contemporary, stand-alone fiction, romance novels included, authors can and should disregard these rules of accuracy. Because sometimes the best research can and does take place right inside of your head.
But, take those who write for other areas in the entertainment industry. Particularly scripts for television and motion pictures. What’s their accuracy requirement?
Case in point.
I once knew a man who wrote scripts for a popular radio show. One based on true events.
Part of this man’s job was to complete extensive research on each and every script he wrote. To do this, he would go down to the police station and, along with the liaison officer he’d been assigned, read through the many files of closed cases and use those as the basis for his scripts. Changing the names, of course, to protect the innocent as they say.
I don’t have to tell you, travel to the police station, combing through file after file. It got to be pretty time consuming after a while. Especially for someone working on a sometimes tight deadline. So he soon came up with a solution.
Using his creativity, he was a writer after all; he made up the ‘files’ he used to prepare the scripts. And, darned if the liaison officer didn’t remember the ‘actual cases’ the scripts were based on. It was a win, win for everyone.
As I write this, a couple of platitudes come to mind. ‘Life imitates art and vice versa.’ ‘Truth is stranger than fiction.’
Actually, I prefer to create my own impression of this.
Like I said earlier, sometimes the best research can and does take place right inside of your head. What do you think? As fiction writers and readers, do you think I have a point or not?
Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time.