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Writer’s Tip #26: Be Accurate

When you read your story, does it sound off, maybe you can’t quite put your finger on it, but you know you’ve done something wrong? Sometimes–maybe even lots of times–there are simple fixes. These writer’s tips will come at you once a week, giving you plenty of time to go through your story and make the adjustments.

Today’s tip: Make sure your facts are accurate.

One reason readers enjoy a book is insider knowledge–learning from the author while enjoying the story. You don’t teach and you don’t want to be pedantic, but when you discuss a topic, be sure you are accurate.

For example, I write action thrillers, which include a lot of military details. I wrote a scene about a British submarine and had a friend read a draft. The first thing he noticed was the submarine I used was no longer active. The class of subs was, but not that particular sub. Ooops.

You get one mistake in a book. But that’s it.

And once you’ve lost credibility, it’s gone. Then readers believe nothing of what you say. True, as fiction writers, we can make up a plot, but if there is a factual base out there, we must use it. We can’t say Robert Parker wrote 200 books and hide under the auspices of fiction.

Willing suspension of disbelief starts with fact checking. Our readers will willingly suspend their disbelief if we’re believable.

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Jacqui Murray is the editor of a K-6 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, creator of two technology training books for middle school and six ebooks on technology in education. She is the author of Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, Cisco guest blog, Technology in Education featured blogger, IMS tech expert, and a bi-weekly contributor to Write Anything. Currently, she’s editing a thriller that should be out to publishers next summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

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3 thoughts on “Writer’s Tip #26: Be Accurate

  1. Pingback: Quotes « Lovingbooks

  2. This tip is good for all sorts of genres, though it works a little differently with each one. For example, fantasy writers have a little more leeway. They can make up a lot of stuff, especially if their world is of their creation. However, there are still research rules to be followed. If they go too far out there, readers might fight back.

    Magic, for instance. You can do what you want for the most part, but a magic system without limitations is one of the “don’t cross” rules of fantasy, at least from my perspective. There has to be some realism, even when the world is not real at all.


    • Good points. I’ve read some fantasy in my writers group that was poorly set up and I couldn’t get into the world the writer was hoping to create. If I’d bought the book, I’d have been disapppointed.


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