Author Topic: The Importance of Fact Checking  (Read 1260 times)

bardsandsages

The Importance of Fact Checking
« on: February 07, 2019, 12:03:53 AM »
I am in the process of editing a novel for one of my authors. The good news is that the difficult things like pacing, character development, world building, and mood are all on point. So, YEAH! No major revisions.

But the facts, man, the facts...

Yes, fiction is about making stuff up. But in order for readers to suspend belief, particularly with spec fiction, you can't do things that are obviously, hilariously wrong that are going to make people go "Uh, WAHHHHH?"

Lines like:

"It was tracked back to somewhere in South America. Possibly Mexico City."

Now unless there is a Mexico City somewhere in Brazil that I don't know about, well...

If your professional psychologist is talking about hypnotherapy, that person should be using the language of a psychologist, not a pot-head hippie. Particularly when talking to a professional peer about a patient's professional treatment.

The thing is, when the obvious things are wrong, it makes it hard for the reader to accept the things that are "made up" for the story. If I keep getting tripped up over obvious errant facts, it is as bad as getting tripped up over constant bad grammar or messy formatting. It distracts from the story.

Which means even if you THINK your facts are right, you should confirm them anyway. Most people don't have personal experience talking with psychologists, and may just be mimicking what they saw on a TV show. So many read a few articles on hypnotherapy in academic journals to get a feel for the jargon. If you are going to reference a specific place, double check to make sure you are remembering it correctly. Heck, I do this ALL THE TIME even when I am writing about places in South Jersey where I live, because I sometimes misremember things (Oh, right, that bar is in LAWNSIDE not OAKLYN).
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Maggie Ann

Re: The Importance of Fact Checking
« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2019, 12:28:20 AM »
So agree with you, Julie. A wrong fact can throw me right out of the story. Multiple wrong facts and I have to fight the urge not to throw the book across the room.

I once had a "fact" that everybody who knew that period in history accepted as correct. Just before I wrote that final chapter, I double checked my sources and there had been a recent archeological find that disproved that "fact". The new information had just been released a few months previously, and I used that, but I was careful to add an author's note, citing the article.

You never know what your readers know that could turn them right off you as an author.
           
 
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VanessaC

Re: The Importance of Fact Checking
« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2019, 01:57:50 AM »
I've heard quite a few sci fi / fantasy authors talking about this - readers will completely accept magic, space ships, and "hand wavium" explanations of weird stuff, but if you get some basic fact wrong, there will be complaints.

I've ended up checking a lot of weird stuff for my fantasy novels from "do wolves have whites around their eyes" to "how to put snow chains onto car tyres" to "how much pressure do you need to break a man's neck" (note: no specific individual in mind, purely research!).  For things like that, in the age of Google and YouTube, it's so easy to check.

Of course, I am not saying my books are error-free, but I'd tried to avoid as many howlers as possible.
 

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Bill Hiatt

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Re: The Importance of Fact Checking
« Reply #3 on: February 07, 2019, 02:23:51 AM »
I don't see this as much in books, but as a former teacher, I often wince over how schools are portrayed in TV shows. The most common patterns that irk me are teachers getting fired on the principal's whim, or students getting expelled the same way. In both cases, there are processes involved, and particularly in the case of student expulsions, the offense has to be pretty serious. I guess it doesn't occur to directors that a technical adviser might be helpful in situations like that.

Several of my novels are set in an area where I used to vacation, but I haven't been there in a while. In cases like that, as well as cases in which I'm dealing with a real-world locale I've never been, I use Google Earth. I find a spot as near as possible to the area I'm writing about, go to street view, and virtually walk around for a while. It's amazing how much that helps. Even though I don't use most of the detail I see, I know that what detail I am using is accurate.

Research has also shown me how many misconceptions are common. For instance, our idea of medieval armor is often derived from those suits or armor (full plate mail) which were really used primarily for jousting--they were too heavy for ordinary combat. Similarly, the replica swords you see for sale are often as much as ten times as heavy as the real thing. You hear "thirty-pound sword," and it makes sense because the average man could certainly lift more than thirty pounds. But using a thirty-pound sword in actual combat? The typical warrior's arm is going wear out quickly, and it would be difficult to swing fast enough or high enough to accomplish anything. I didn't know any of that before I started writing.


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LilyBLily

Re: The Importance of Fact Checking
« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2019, 04:53:47 AM »
I recently winced and gave up on a book that claimed the South Side of Chicago in 1940 was a sinkhole of poor people. Well, no, it wasn't. Not then. And don't get me started on that pop song from years ago about the "East Side" of Chicago. The east side is the lake. And longtime residents of Chi-town still call the commuter rail line "the IC" even though it has a new official name.

I pass what my PTSD characters do by a psychologist. Sometimes more than one. The interesting thing is that most of us already know a lot about it; we just might not know how psychologists characterize their clients' behaviors when not writing up a DSM-5-compliant diagnosis for insurance purposes. 

Online research is the bomb. You don't even have to know where to look. You just start looking.
 

spin52

Re: The Importance of Fact Checking
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2019, 05:21:10 AM »
I have to laugh at that. The east side of Seattle is also a lake, but there the term East Side refers to the wealthy suburbs on the far side of it.


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notthatamanda

Re: The Importance of Fact Checking
« Reply #6 on: February 08, 2019, 01:09:06 AM »
I love doing this type of research.  I had to check to see when elevators went from operators to buttons.  People were scared.  They would hop off in a panic before they got trapped inside.  Google is using this history to try to ease the self driven car into the public psyche in a more gentle way.


 

OfficialEthanJ

Re: The Importance of Fact Checking
« Reply #7 on: February 08, 2019, 01:27:14 AM »
And don't get me started on that pop song from years ago about the "East Side" of Chicago. The east side is the lake.

Het hem: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/East_Side,_Chicago

IIRC Ed Vrdolyak represented the East Side back in the "Council Wars" era.
 

dikim

Re: The Importance of Fact Checking
« Reply #8 on: February 08, 2019, 03:36:08 AM »
Research can be huge fun, and there's nothing to beat personal experience. I once had a scene about a ride through a wood that my editor wanted to be more authentic. So I phoned around all the local riding stables, explained what I needed and signed up with the one who managed to come up with a woodland ride for me. It helped me pick up tiny details like the sound of the horses' feet on dry leaves that eventually brought my scene to life.

I find that people are amazingly cooperative when you tell them you're an author researching a book. Some of the best things I've done over the years have been  going backstage at Phantom of the Opera, watching casts put on in a fracture clininc and sitting in on a pilots' briefing for an air  race. Life action role play (larping) is great research for sword and sorcery fantasies. I learned so much about battle tactics fighting fake goblins with a latex sword. It brought terms like "shoulder to shoulder" and "hold the line" to life.


Author of more than 40 books and several scripts. Writes fiction and non-fiction for children, young adults, adults and other writers.
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LilyBLily

Re: The Importance of Fact Checking
« Reply #9 on: February 08, 2019, 04:09:05 AM »
And don't get me started on that pop song from years ago about the "East Side" of Chicago. The east side is the lake.

Het hem: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/East_Side,_Chicago

IIRC Ed Vrdolyak represented the East Side back in the "Council Wars" era.

There is a community with that name, but the geographic east side of Chicago is still the lake. There's a difference between, "I live in East Side" and "I live on the east side." But now I'll have to listen to that song again and decide which it's really talking about. And I don't like that song.  :icon_think:
 

Easter IsleDan

Re: The Importance of Fact Checking
« Reply #10 on: February 08, 2019, 04:32:37 AM »
There is a community with that name, but the geographic east side of Chicago is still the lake. There's a difference between, "I live in East Side" and "I live on the east side."

By that logic, the east side of Illinois is Indiana, the north side is Wisconsin, the east side is split between Iowa and Missouri and the southern side of Illinois is Kentucky and a bit of Missouri, so basically Illinois doesn't actually exist at all.  :icon_think:
     
 

bardsandsages

Re: The Importance of Fact Checking
« Reply #11 on: February 08, 2019, 07:22:39 AM »
By that logic, the east side of Illinois is Indiana, the north side is Wisconsin, the east side is split between Iowa and Missouri and the southern side of Illinois is Kentucky and a bit of Missouri, so basically Illinois doesn't actually exist at all.  :icon_think:

I'm pretty sure Kentucky is everything between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh,,,
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David VanDyke

Re: The Importance of Fact Checking
« Reply #12 on: February 08, 2019, 09:13:29 AM »
The reason SFF (and most fiction) works is, things don't have to be right.

They just have to be "not wrong."

That's why it's called "suspension of disbelief," not "belief."

I read a book recently (published in the last 5 years) where the author described in detail the former Soviet Embassy in San Francisco at a certain period of time--and it was clear to anyone who knew the building that this guy simply made it all up. Nothing was right about it, yet 5 minutes on Google brought up plenty of info.
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Dennis Chekalov

Re: The Importance of Fact Checking
« Reply #13 on: February 08, 2019, 11:40:00 AM »
I've just finished editing a dystopian thriller, and one of the main messages of the book was — uneducated people are easy to manipulate and oppress. It's so true. There's an interesting and thought-provoking (although very toxic) thread in the Asteroid Field about Trump, gun control, etc. And I was shocked, really. If you support Trump, or Clinton, or Gandalf, or Winnie-the-Pooh — it's okay. But how can people ignore facts? Let's say, many people claim that Trump is antisemitic. Trump? Antisemitic? He supports Israel in everything. Please, I strongly ask everyone not to start a discussion about politics in this thread. [And you just did it yourself, Dennis, you would say.] However, the low level of education isn't something that came from nowhere. After the USSR was destroyed, the new Minister of Education and Science, Fursenko, said: "The goal of the Soviet system was to raise creators. We don't need creators. Our goal now is to raise consumers." And that's what we have all around us — raising consumers.

I know that we are just tiny Hobbits in the grand scheme of things, but I want to believe that we can change something. Every single book, every single message matters in this fight.

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bardsandsages

Re: The Importance of Fact Checking
« Reply #14 on: February 08, 2019, 11:56:10 PM »
I know that we are just tiny Hobbits in the grand scheme of things, but I want to believe that we can change something. Every single book, every single message matters in this fight.

 :clap:

I actually enjoy arguing politics with people who at least have a grasp of the facts. When everyone is using the same information, then it is just a matter of discussing how to handle the situation. But when people don't have an understanding of the FACTS, then you can't find common ground to solve the problem.

And basic facts matter even more in fiction. In the story I am editing, it is a paranormal murder mystery that references a real world cult. In such situations, getting BASIC FACTS WRONG can actually anger readers, because it can look like you are attacking someone's religious beliefs of culture. And when people think you are attacking them, your larger message will get lost in everything else.
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David VanDyke

Re: The Importance of Fact Checking
« Reply #15 on: February 09, 2019, 02:10:34 AM »
We're living in a time of useless-information overload. The facts are out there--but they're obscured by the noise, so people who don't think critically (90% of the human race) simply find and absorb what confirms their own ideas. Confirmation bias.

For writers, it's an age of defensive writing. I do it all the time. When I put in something I know some people will instinctively knee-jerk kick against, I make sure to put in a line or two of exposition in a character's mouth, like "Most people don't know this, but..."

It weakens the writing, but most of my stuff is deliberately aimed at the common reader, who's said to have a tenth grade education, not at the literary reader--because I want to sell books and make a living.

Fortunately, I've gotten to the point where I'm ready to write something a bit more erudite, and let the chips fall where they may as far as sales--but I'm sure I'll still end up writing defensively in some cases.
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DrewMcGunn

Re: The Importance of Fact Checking
« Reply #16 on: February 09, 2019, 02:23:46 AM »
I write alternative history and there's a certain subset of the readers within the genre that expect you to know your stuff before you attempt to twist it around in your story.

I've spend an inordinantly large amount of time fact checking most of my stories. To a point that I get a little behind on my writing goals.

In my first book, Forget the Alamo, the book's payoff is a series of battles between the Rio Grande and the Nueces River in Texas in which the siege and fall of the Alamo is circumvented. (ergo the title, Forget the Alamo)... I spent time researching the Camino Real in South Texas in the early 19th century. I spent time researching the depth and width of the Rio Grande in the general area where historians believe Santa Anna crossed the river in 1836. As meticulously as I could, I reconstructed (with a little bit of author's license) the river at that time.

I also had several scenes set in San Antonio. I downloaded every map I could find of the town at that time and used them religiously to get the setting right. Now, I write alternative history and stuff changes, history gets twisted around. By book 5 in my series, San Antonio doesn't look much like it would historically. But the baseline from which I started was as meticulously researched as possible.

As a reader, I can be a little unforgiving to authors who cut from whole cloth their historical settings, especially if what they're describing is historically known. I like David Van Dike's example of the Soviet consulate, where a little research would have given the writer the correct answer.

Drew McGunn
 

Al Stevens

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Re: The Importance of Fact Checking
« Reply #17 on: February 09, 2019, 02:50:32 AM »
Stephen King gets his facts wrong a lot. His technical dialogues between the MC and an auto mechanic in Christine are hilarious. Then he confuses Fords, Chevies, Mustangs, and Camaros. In The Dome he starts out with a student pilot learning to fly in a complex twin-engine airplane. (She crashes into the dome.) Those are just examples. There's more. Of course, they'll publish anything he writes. But such nits are annoying.
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Al Stevens is a retired author of computer programming books. For fifteen years he was a senior contributing editor and columnist for Dr. Dobb's Journal, a leading magazine for computer programmers. Al lives with his wife Judy and a menagerie of cats on Florida's Space Coast where he writes by day and plays piano, string bass, and saxophone by night.
 

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Re: The Importance of Fact Checking
« Reply #18 on: February 09, 2019, 02:57:22 AM »
Don't get anything wrong about guns. A beta reader told me that few people had heard of an Italian pistol I mentioned, so I did a blanket replacement with Glock. Big mistake. I mentioned the safety and got jumped on in at least one review and several e-mails. Glocks don't have safeties. I knew that, but I didn't pay attention to what I had changed. Gun people are protective of their domain.
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Al Stevens is a retired author of computer programming books. For fifteen years he was a senior contributing editor and columnist for Dr. Dobb's Journal, a leading magazine for computer programmers. Al lives with his wife Judy and a menagerie of cats on Florida's Space Coast where he writes by day and plays piano, string bass, and saxophone by night.
 

David VanDyke

Re: The Importance of Fact Checking
« Reply #19 on: February 09, 2019, 03:45:09 AM »
Don't get anything wrong about guns. A beta reader told me that few people had heard of an Italian pistol I mentioned, so I did a blanket replacement with Glock. Big mistake. I mentioned the safety and got jumped on in at least one review and several e-mails. Glocks don't have safeties. I knew that, but I didn't pay attention to what I had changed. Gun people are protective of their domain.

And sometimes they're half-wits too. I had more than one supposed gun person complain when I had a character using a lever-action magazine-fed rifle--which do exist, but are uncommon. But people think they don't exist. Ditto with a silenced revolver.
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spin52

Re: The Importance of Fact Checking
« Reply #20 on: February 09, 2019, 05:39:39 AM »
Now I'm getting nervous. In my WIP I have someone being shot with a Derringer pistol. I know the years they were manufactured match my book's time frame and that they only held one shot (unless you had the double barrelled type) and that the range was poker-table length. I've seen photos so I can describe it (or them, as they were usually sold in pairs). Anything else?


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OfficialEthanJ

Re: The Importance of Fact Checking
« Reply #21 on: February 09, 2019, 06:37:52 AM »
Couple of things:

1. I dunno who here remembers the WWWWF Grudge Match web site (back when there were no reliable search engines), but one thread went on for miles arguing as to whether velociraptors were acid proof or acid resistant. I forget what they were matched up against... presumably something that uses acid in its arsenal. (To further gum things up, the matchup was indeed the raptors from Jurassic Park... are frogs acid resistant? Not sure where in the JP canon we can find references to acid being used on raptors, or if they were African raptors or European raptors.)

2. I have found that the thing that keeps the Window of Disbelief™ from slamming shut is an Explaining Sentence™. It could be absolute bull, but I've had no shortage of people challenge me on some plot point, then pause, say the explaining sentence, then rationalize why (blah blah rationalizationcakes). Consider:

+ The Enterprise runs on Dilithium Crystals.

+ Hiro (from Heroes) becomes fluent in English by time traveling (backward?) and taking lessons from his girlfriend. (He tells his best friend this in a throwaway line when asked how he suddenly knows so much English.)

+ The Force is an energy field, created by all living things.
 

bardsandsages

Re: The Importance of Fact Checking
« Reply #22 on: February 12, 2019, 04:14:46 AM »
2. I have found that the thing that keeps the Window of Disbelief™ from slamming shut is an Explaining Sentence™.

Not arguing that point. The issue is primarily when an author doesn't get a very mundane and basic fact right (like my original example about Mexico City being in South America. I'm not talking about making something YOU KNOW is nor factual sound sound plausible (that's most fiction). But when you make a statement in a book that is obviously wrong to anyone with a basic familiarity with the subject.
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Scrapper78

Re: The Importance of Fact Checking
« Reply #23 on: February 12, 2019, 06:55:06 AM »
Now I'm getting nervous. In my WIP I have someone being shot with a Derringer pistol. I know the years they were manufactured match my book's time frame and that they only held one shot (unless you had the double barrelled type) and that the range was poker-table length. I've seen photos so I can describe it (or them, as they were usually sold in pairs). Anything else?

Biggest thing with derringers is that the round carried very little energy and was tiny. Nobody should be slumping over dead from a derringer shot. If you got a major blood vessel, you could get your guy to bleed out in several minutes. Eye socket and throat are probably quick stops, but anything else usually means the victim is going to die of infection three days later. A thick wad of paper or too many layers of clothing can and will stop the old ones. They were a weapon of last resort.
 
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L_Loryn

Re: The Importance of Fact Checking
« Reply #24 on: February 12, 2019, 11:21:27 AM »
This is generally why (in contemporary work), I do a Falkner and essentially make up the setting. I don't say specific cities or towns. I'll say states, but once at the state, I never drill down exactly where the characters are going.

None of my readers have ever commented on my world building being weak. I KNOW the place I'm writing, I just don't think it's important for the reader to know. My city is New Orleans-Austin-Seattle-Atlanta-Memphis with a bunch of off-named businesses that one could probably identify and smirk if they knew the real place. I used Satsuma Cafe (A Nola breakfast place) in a book, but instead of calling it Satsuma, I called it Bergamot Cafe. I even used their menu, I just didn't use the name because I didn't want anyone to come behind me and say anything about it. I almost always grid-lay a big city. First and something is always the corner where something goes down. I'll use a map when I get tired or if I need a highway name (those I keep the same).

As far as guns, I keep it as vague as possible as well. I don't know anything about guns, so I don't start naming specific brands. I've watched youtube videos on how to take them apart and put them together and looked up the different stances for shooting them, but otherwise I keep it super vague "pistol", "rifle", "shotgun".

The only time I've ever named something that exists in this world as a brand was mentioning a fender stratocaster guitar. Otherwise, hell, I don't even mention car brands. All of my vehicles are "color-style", e.g. silver hatchback, black pickup truck.
 

OfficialEthanJ

Re: The Importance of Fact Checking
« Reply #25 on: February 12, 2019, 12:56:24 PM »
The only time I've ever named something that exists in this world as a brand was mentioning a fender stratocaster guitar. Otherwise, hell, I don't even mention car brands. All of my vehicles are "color-style", e.g. silver hatchback, black pickup truck.

This is why my ubiquitous brand name is "ARCTURUS". I started to use actual company names (such as Apple) in early draft and really didn't feel good about it, trademark and other issues aside. I decided ARCTURUS was my catch-all for anything electronic and it kinda spiraled from there (to the point my imprint is ARCTURUS Press -- that company really does do it all!).
 

idontknowyet

Re: The Importance of Fact Checking
« Reply #26 on: February 12, 2019, 01:18:37 PM »
I don't see this as much in books, but as a former teacher, I often wince over how schools are portrayed in TV shows. The most common patterns that irk me are teachers getting fired on the principal's whim, or students getting expelled the same way. In both cases, there are processes involved, and particularly in the case of student expulsions, the offense has to be pretty serious. I guess it doesn't occur to directors that a technical adviser might be helpful in situations like that.

This is true and its not. I've seen a student expelled from school the first day of kindergarten. Literally the first day.

I have also seen teachers fired willy nilly to. Until a teacher is tenured in many places the principal can get rid of them at any time for any reason or no reason. Once you're tenured it's harder, but that protection is different in each state.


I agree that fact checking is important, but points of reference change from town to town, state to state, and even country to country.
 

Bill Hiatt

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Re: The Importance of Fact Checking
« Reply #27 on: February 13, 2019, 04:34:40 AM »
I don't see this as much in books, but as a former teacher, I often wince over how schools are portrayed in TV shows. The most common patterns that irk me are teachers getting fired on the principal's whim, or students getting expelled the same way. In both cases, there are processes involved, and particularly in the case of student expulsions, the offense has to be pretty serious. I guess it doesn't occur to directors that a technical adviser might be helpful in situations like that.

This is true and its not. I've seen a student expelled from school the first day of kindergarten. Literally the first day.

I have also seen teachers fired willy nilly to. Until a teacher is tenured in many places the principal can get rid of them at any time for any reason or no reason. Once you're tenured it's harder, but that protection is different in each state.


I agree that fact checking is important, but points of reference change from town to town, state to state, and even country to country.
Context is helpful. What did the kindergartner do to get expelled on the first day? And are you sure the kid was expelled rather than suspended? (The bar is much lower for suspensions, and people often confuse the two things.)

As for the second part, I was thinking of tenured teachers, and while rights do vary, I don't think there very many states in which a tenured teacher can be fired with no due process. (Given the national teacher shortage, I also think it's now pretty uncommon even for untenured teachers to be fired "willy-nilly." The reality is that districts struggle just to find people with the right credentialing, and most reasonable principals would know they may not be able to find someone better and might possibly end up with someone worse. In the school where I used to teach, a teacher was "non-reelected," (the term for firing an untenured teacher without cause in California). Before the next school year began, she was rehired because the school was unable to find anyone equally well-qualified.

I was making a general point, and I'd certainly concede that one could find exceptions to it. But in general, it is more true than not, particularly with expulsions. It's hard for me to find stats that aren't focused on racial disparities in expulsion rates, but every reference I kind find in a quick search cites expulsion reasons (from various states) that focus on things like weapon possession, violence, and drug dealing. So if the kindergartner came in and started selling heroin or came in toting a rifle, then expulsion might have occurred. But keep in mind that the initial decision to expel is different from the actual expulsion. I can't find in a quick search any state that doesn't have an expulsion hearing, and I found at least one source that cites a constitutional right to such a hearing.

Anyway, if I were a technical consultant on a school-related movie or TV show, and the writers wanted to do something that seemed exceptional, I'd suggest that, at the very least, some kind of explanation, even if was brief, also found its way into the script. If the movie or series were filming in an identifiable state, I'd check state law on it. If not, I'd press for the explanation if something atypical was happening. If 49 states require an expulsion hearing and one doesn't, I don't think the audience will necessarily assume the story is taking place in the one state.

Anyway, I doubt directors and writers are actually thinking about exceptional cases. I think it's more likely that they make assumptions without checking them out.
 


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Re: The Importance of Fact Checking
« Reply #28 on: February 13, 2019, 04:54:55 AM »
Interesting subject. It's a balance I suppose in some cases, because I do think Swain had it right in Techniques of the Selling Writer that you always want to drill down and be as specific or "concrete" (as he put it) as possible to maximize engagement with the reader, i.e. instead of 'steak' you'd say 'T-bone' or instead of 'car' you'd say 'Cadillac' because it's more evocative, paints a sharper image.

But then you run the risk of raising the ire of readers because the more detailed you get the more details there are to point out are incorrect. I could say 'pistol' which is more specific than 'gun' which in turn is more specific than 'weapon', but neither are as "concrete" as 'Glock'. But then, by saying 'Glock' I've got to be very careful or the gun people will jump all over me.

I suppose in thinking about it, someone like Dan Brown probably gets fact-checked all over the place by reviewers who find all kinds of things he gets "wrong" whether true or not. But, he probably can't hear those criticisms or checked-facts for all the gold coins falling out of his ears. Maybe fact checking is something you worry less about the more money you make.  :icon_mrgreen:
 

L_Loryn

Re: The Importance of Fact Checking
« Reply #29 on: February 13, 2019, 05:30:01 AM »
Interesting subject. It's a balance I suppose in some cases, because I do think Swain had it right in Techniques of the Selling Writer that you always want to drill down and be as specific or "concrete" (as he put it) as possible to maximize engagement with the reader, i.e. instead of 'steak' you'd say 'T-bone' or instead of 'car' you'd say 'Cadillac' because it's more evocative, paints a sharper image.

Cadillac doesn't paint a "sharper" image for me. This is actually one of my pet peeves in fiction. Do not tell me random car names. I don't know cars, and I don't care about cars. I don't know what a cadillac says about a person over a camry.

I will quit a book if there are too many brand-named items.

Needless to say, I quit a lot of books.
 

bardsandsages

Re: The Importance of Fact Checking
« Reply #30 on: February 13, 2019, 05:44:19 AM »
Cadillac doesn't paint a "sharper" image for me. This is actually one of my pet peeves in fiction. Do not tell me random car names. I don't know cars, and I don't care about cars. I don't know what a cadillac says about a person over a camry.

Your indifference to cars does not make using a car name wrong. I'm indifferent to fashion, but I am smart enough to realize that if an author calls out a specific designer when describing a scene, there is probably a reason for it.

"She walked into the room wearing a floor length Vera Wang wedding gown" says something different than "She walked into the room wearing a floor length wedding gown." I don't really follow fashion, but I recognize in the context that the dress in the first sentence means the CHARACTER follows fashion and that it is important to her. It also implies in context that the dress probably cost more than a generic wedding dress. And this could all be terribly important if we know, for example, that the character struggles to pay her bills or has financial problems, because then, hmmmm, wonder who paid for that dress?

Someone who drives a Toyota Prius has different priorities than someone who drives a Ford F-150. You don't need to know the difference between a Honda Civic or a Honda Accord specifically but telling me someone drives a Honda Civic does say something about the person as opposed to, say, driving a Shelby Mustang.

Everyone has a pet peeve. But it is never wrong to provide good description in context, including brand names, if it helps the story.
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L_Loryn

Re: The Importance of Fact Checking
« Reply #31 on: February 13, 2019, 06:17:38 AM »
Your indifference to cars does not make using a car name wrong. I'm indifferent to fashion, but I am smart enough to realize that if an author calls out a specific designer when describing a scene, there is probably a reason for it.

"She walked into the room wearing a floor length Vera Wang wedding gown" says something different than "She walked into the room wearing a floor length wedding gown." I don't really follow fashion, but I recognize in the context that the dress in the first sentence means the CHARACTER follows fashion and that it is important to her. It also implies in context that the dress probably cost more than a generic wedding dress. And this could all be terribly important if we know, for example, that the character struggles to pay her bills or has financial problems, because then, hmmmm, wonder who paid for that dress?

Someone who drives a Toyota Prius has different priorities than someone who drives a Ford F-150. You don't need to know the difference between a Honda Civic or a Honda Accord specifically but telling me someone drives a Honda Civic does say something about the person as opposed to, say, driving a Shelby Mustang.

Everyone has a pet peeve. But it is never wrong to provide good description in context, including brand names, if it helps the story.

I didn't say it's wrong. I actually think it's lazy, if I'm being 100% honest.

"She walked into the room wearing a floor length Vera Wang wedding gown," is different than "She walked into the room wearing a floor length lace wedding gown painted with crystals," is different than "she walked into the room wearing a floor length wedding gown."

Pretty confident a crystal-covered wedding gown also costs more than average, but you didn't have to say Vera Wang to get that across. And I agree, it could be very important if someone paid for the dress. I'm heavily into fashion. I love fashion, and I would still be irked if someone said "Vera Wang" over describing the dress. Vera Wang still doesn't tell me much because it assumes all her dresses are the same price point which they aren't. One could be getting one of her more affordable dresses over one of her top of the line dresses.

Plus, if she's struggling to pay her bills, what if she found the dress used at a thrift store? One could describe the Vera Wang dress as frayed at the edges, missing stones, off-colored. Then it's easy to say she could afford it over a description of "crisp white" and "diamonds glistening in ballroom's light". Once you go as far to describe the physical appearance of the dress, the brand label is unnecessary.
 

Bill Hiatt

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Re: The Importance of Fact Checking
« Reply #32 on: February 13, 2019, 06:54:39 AM »
Your indifference to cars does not make using a car name wrong. I'm indifferent to fashion, but I am smart enough to realize that if an author calls out a specific designer when describing a scene, there is probably a reason for it.

"She walked into the room wearing a floor length Vera Wang wedding gown" says something different than "She walked into the room wearing a floor length wedding gown." I don't really follow fashion, but I recognize in the context that the dress in the first sentence means the CHARACTER follows fashion and that it is important to her. It also implies in context that the dress probably cost more than a generic wedding dress. And this could all be terribly important if we know, for example, that the character struggles to pay her bills or has financial problems, because then, hmmmm, wonder who paid for that dress?

Someone who drives a Toyota Prius has different priorities than someone who drives a Ford F-150. You don't need to know the difference between a Honda Civic or a Honda Accord specifically but telling me someone drives a Honda Civic does say something about the person as opposed to, say, driving a Shelby Mustang.

Everyone has a pet peeve. But it is never wrong to provide good description in context, including brand names, if it helps the story.

I didn't say it's wrong. I actually think it's lazy, if I'm being 100% honest.

"She walked into the room wearing a floor length Vera Wang wedding gown," is different than "She walked into the room wearing a floor length lace wedding gown painted with crystals," is different than "she walked into the room wearing a floor length wedding gown."

Pretty confident a crystal-covered wedding gown also costs more than average, but you didn't have to say Vera Wang to get that across. And I agree, it could be very important if someone paid for the dress. I'm heavily into fashion. I love fashion, and I would still be irked if someone said "Vera Wang" over describing the dress. Vera Wang still doesn't tell me much because it assumes all her dresses are the same price point which they aren't. One could be getting one of her more affordable dresses over one of her top of the line dresses.

Plus, if she's struggling to pay her bills, what if she found the dress used at a thrift store? One could describe the Vera Wang dress as frayed at the edges, missing stones, off-colored. Then it's easy to say she could afford it over a description of "crisp white" and "diamonds glistening in ballroom's light". Once you go as far to describe the physical appearance of the dress, the brand label is unnecessary.
Using a brand name need not preclude specific description. It can be part of a specific description.

I've found that authors vary in terms of the use of brand names. People who know cars, for example, are more likely to use brand names. Others know fashion or weapons or whatever. I'm more likely to name a particular architectural style and less likely to name a specific type of gun.


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guest957

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Re: The Importance of Fact Checking
« Reply #33 on: February 13, 2019, 07:44:49 AM »
Your indifference to cars does not make using a car name wrong. I'm indifferent to fashion, but I am smart enough to realize that if an author calls out a specific designer when describing a scene, there is probably a reason for it.

"She walked into the room wearing a floor length Vera Wang wedding gown" says something different than "She walked into the room wearing a floor length wedding gown." I don't really follow fashion, but I recognize in the context that the dress in the first sentence means the CHARACTER follows fashion and that it is important to her. It also implies in context that the dress probably cost more than a generic wedding dress. And this could all be terribly important if we know, for example, that the character struggles to pay her bills or has financial problems, because then, hmmmm, wonder who paid for that dress?

Someone who drives a Toyota Prius has different priorities than someone who drives a Ford F-150. You don't need to know the difference between a Honda Civic or a Honda Accord specifically but telling me someone drives a Honda Civic does say something about the person as opposed to, say, driving a Shelby Mustang.

Everyone has a pet peeve. But it is never wrong to provide good description in context, including brand names, if it helps the story.

I didn't say it's wrong. I actually think it's lazy, if I'm being 100% honest.

"She walked into the room wearing a floor length Vera Wang wedding gown," is different than "She walked into the room wearing a floor length lace wedding gown painted with crystals," is different than "she walked into the room wearing a floor length wedding gown."

Pretty confident a crystal-covered wedding gown also costs more than average, but you didn't have to say Vera Wang to get that across. And I agree, it could be very important if someone paid for the dress. I'm heavily into fashion. I love fashion, and I would still be irked if someone said "Vera Wang" over describing the dress. Vera Wang still doesn't tell me much because it assumes all her dresses are the same price point which they aren't. One could be getting one of her more affordable dresses over one of her top of the line dresses.

Plus, if she's struggling to pay her bills, what if she found the dress used at a thrift store? One could describe the Vera Wang dress as frayed at the edges, missing stones, off-colored. Then it's easy to say she could afford it over a description of "crisp white" and "diamonds glistening in ballroom's light". Once you go as far to describe the physical appearance of the dress, the brand label is unnecessary.

I don't know that it's lazy, but rather I think using a brand name can convey various things to the reader. It could be a way of deepening  the character without needing to go overboard with exposition, a form of shorthand. It can be part of an author's voice or lend characterization to the narrator who might come across with more specificity to the reader, deepening voice. Sometimes using brand names can further signify to a reader the genre or subgenre, telegraphs a style, or lets them know they're in the right hands or reading a thing with which they will resonate because it is material they tend to enjoy or it's a kind of treatment of certain material they tend to enjoy.

If I'm reading Bret Easton Ellis or Sophie Kinsella I think it'd be jarring not to see brand names, I think it lends something to their voice if not to their characters. It draws me into their worlds. If I'm reading some schlocky spy story because that's the experience I'm after, I imagine I would appreciate the flashy brand mentions. You can convey something similar to saying "Vera Wang" by further describing a gown in detail, but I don't want to get too wordy or purple, and Vera Wang pretty efficiently gets across what I'm after.

But a larger point could get lost in this digression, and that's the whole thing about being concrete. I think it's more evocative to the reader to say "thrift store" than just "store". That was more what I was getting at. You could say sedan instead of Cadillac, but even if you don't know cars Cadillac will, in most cases, evoke an image and paints a character a certain way.

Then there's the utility of the object itself which being specific can yield benefits, say in a chase scene where the vehicle's capabilities or nuances play a part. Same if you were hiding a body. There's a difference between needing to drop a corpse in the trunk of a Caddie and trying to hide a dead guy in a hatchback. One might convey the killer knows their craft, knows what tools they need, is competent. Another might convey they're a fool, or the story intrigues more because they're forced to make do with something of lesser utility. Possibilities abound.

More directly, I think my eyes would glaze over if the author wrote about the shape and size of a car or a trunk capacity as opposed to just conveying it directly by naming the make, model.

It's true many readers might not understand the distinctions in whatever subject areas, but I read plenty of books where I don't really understand the tech, or the subject matter but I appreciate that it's there because it does seem to add some authorial voice or authenticity to the story I'm reading. Mileage on this varies, of course.
 

idontknowyet

Re: The Importance of Fact Checking
« Reply #34 on: February 13, 2019, 07:53:42 AM »
I don't see this as much in books, but as a former teacher, I often wince over how schools are portrayed in TV shows. The most common patterns that irk me are teachers getting fired on the principal's whim, or students getting expelled the same way. In both cases, there are processes involved, and particularly in the case of student expulsions, the offense has to be pretty serious. I guess it doesn't occur to directors that a technical adviser might be helpful in situations like that.

This is true and its not. I've seen a student expelled from school the first day of kindergarten. Literally the first day.

I have also seen teachers fired willy nilly to. Until a teacher is tenured in many places the principal can get rid of them at any time for any reason or no reason. Once you're tenured it's harder, but that protection is different in each state.


I agree that fact checking is important, but points of reference change from town to town, state to state, and even country to country.
Context is helpful. What did the kindergartner do to get expelled on the first day? And are you sure the kid was expelled rather than suspended? (The bar is much lower for suspensions, and people often confuse the two things.)

As for the second part, I was thinking of tenured teachers, and while rights do vary, I don't think there very many states in which a tenured teacher can be fired with no due process. (Given the national teacher shortage, I also think it's now pretty uncommon even for untenured teachers to be fired "willy-nilly." The reality is that districts struggle just to find people with the right credentialing, and most reasonable principals would know they may not be able to find someone better and might possibly end up with someone worse. In the school where I used to teach, a teacher was "non-reelected," (the term for firing an untenured teacher without cause in California). Before the next school year began, she was rehired because the school was unable to find anyone equally well-qualified.

I was making a general point, and I'd certainly concede that one could find exceptions to it. But in general, it is more true than not, particularly with expulsions. It's hard for me to find stats that aren't focused on racial disparities in expulsion rates, but every reference I kind find in a quick search cites expulsion reasons (from various states) that focus on things like weapon possession, violence, and drug dealing. So if the kindergartner came in and started selling heroin or came in toting a rifle, then expulsion might have occurred. But keep in mind that the initial decision to expel is different from the actual expulsion. I can't find in a quick search any state that doesn't have an expulsion hearing, and I found at least one source that cites a constitutional right to such a hearing.

Anyway, if I were a technical consultant on a school-related movie or TV show, and the writers wanted to do something that seemed exceptional, I'd suggest that, at the very least, some kind of explanation, even if was brief, also found its way into the script. If the movie or series were filming in an identifiable state, I'd check state law on it. If not, I'd press for the explanation if something atypical was happening. If 49 states require an expulsion hearing and one doesn't, I don't think the audience will necessarily assume the story is taking place in the one state.

Anyway, I doubt directors and writers are actually thinking about exceptional cases. I think it's more likely that they make assumptions without checking them out.
 

Oh yeah. I'm sure. The parents fought the expulsion and won The child was put in another classroom/school (with a 30 year amazing vet teacher) where the child proceeded to do the same thing again. They then tried putting the child in a self contained classroom which also didn't work.  After the child was pulled from the self contained room, I lost track of the student. My best guess was the child might have been offered at home education but due to safety issues i'm not even sure that could happen.


I agree most people related better to the general rule rather than the exceptions
 

idontknowyet

Re: The Importance of Fact Checking
« Reply #35 on: February 13, 2019, 08:05:25 AM »
Your indifference to cars does not make using a car name wrong. I'm indifferent to fashion, but I am smart enough to realize that if an author calls out a specific designer when describing a scene, there is probably a reason for it.

"She walked into the room wearing a floor length Vera Wang wedding gown" says something different than "She walked into the room wearing a floor length wedding gown." I don't really follow fashion, but I recognize in the context that the dress in the first sentence means the CHARACTER follows fashion and that it is important to her. It also implies in context that the dress probably cost more than a generic wedding dress. And this could all be terribly important if we know, for example, that the character struggles to pay her bills or has financial problems, because then, hmmmm, wonder who paid for that dress?

Someone who drives a Toyota Prius has different priorities than someone who drives a Ford F-150. You don't need to know the difference between a Honda Civic or a Honda Accord specifically but telling me someone drives a Honda Civic does say something about the person as opposed to, say, driving a Shelby Mustang.

Everyone has a pet peeve. But it is never wrong to provide good description in context, including brand names, if it helps the story.

I didn't say it's wrong. I actually think it's lazy, if I'm being 100% honest.

"She walked into the room wearing a floor length Vera Wang wedding gown," is different than "She walked into the room wearing a floor length lace wedding gown painted with crystals," is different than "she walked into the room wearing a floor length wedding gown."

Pretty confident a crystal-covered wedding gown also costs more than average, but you didn't have to say Vera Wang to get that across. And I agree, it could be very important if someone paid for the dress. I'm heavily into fashion. I love fashion, and I would still be irked if someone said "Vera Wang" over describing the dress. Vera Wang still doesn't tell me much because it assumes all her dresses are the same price point which they aren't. One could be getting one of her more affordable dresses over one of her top of the line dresses.

Plus, if she's struggling to pay her bills, what if she found the dress used at a thrift store? One could describe the Vera Wang dress as frayed at the edges, missing stones, off-colored. Then it's easy to say she could afford it over a description of "crisp white" and "diamonds glistening in ballroom's light". Once you go as far to describe the physical appearance of the dress, the brand label is unnecessary.

I don't know that it's lazy, but rather I think using a brand name can convey various things to the reader. It could be a way of deepening  the character without needing to go overboard with exposition, a form of shorthand. It can be part of an author's voice or lend characterization to the narrator who might come across with more specificity to the reader, deepening voice. Sometimes using brand names can further signify to a reader the genre or subgenre, telegraphs a style, or lets them know they're in the right hands or reading a thing with which they will resonate because it is material they tend to enjoy or it's a kind of treatment of certain material they tend to enjoy.

If I'm reading Bret Easton Ellis or Sophie Kinsella I think it'd be jarring not to see brand names, I think it lends something to their voice if not to their characters. It draws me into their worlds. If I'm reading some schlocky spy story because that's the experience I'm after, I imagine I would appreciate the flashy brand mentions. You can convey something similar to saying "Vera Wang" by further describing a gown in detail, but I don't want to get too wordy or purple, and Vera Wang pretty efficiently gets across what I'm after.

But a larger point could get lost in this digression, and that's the whole thing about being concrete. I think it's more evocative to the reader to say "thrift store" than just "store". That was more what I was getting at. You could say sedan instead of Cadillac, but even if you don't know cars Cadillac will, in most cases, evoke an image and paints a character a certain way.

Then there's the utility of the object itself which being specific can yield benefits, say in a chase scene where the vehicle's capabilities or nuances play a part. Same if you were hiding a body. There's a difference between needing to drop a corpse in the trunk of a Caddie and trying to hide a dead guy in a hatchback. One might convey the killer knows their craft, knows what tools they need, is competent. Another might convey they're a fool, or the story intrigues more because they're forced to make do with something of lesser utility. Possibilities abound.

More directly, I think my eyes would glaze over if the author wrote about the shape and size of a car or a trunk capacity as opposed to just conveying it directly by naming the make, model.

It's true many readers might not understand the distinctions in whatever subject areas, but I read plenty of books where I don't really understand the tech, or the subject matter but I appreciate that it's there because it does seem to add some authorial voice or authenticity to the story I'm reading. Mileage on this varies, of course.


I agree. Personally I worry about legal issues involved.


It was funny I read a book and they totally messed up the visualizations by using brands for cars. The author had the MC being uber rich like multi million dollar house, but they are driving cheapy economy cars. Each time the author used the brand name of the car all the way down to the model. They weren't trying to make the person out to be miserly with their money which would have been the assumption. They just acted like this economy car was an ultra lux brand which was completely confusing in the book.
 

guest957

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Re: The Importance of Fact Checking
« Reply #36 on: February 13, 2019, 07:58:15 PM »
Your indifference to cars does not make using a car name wrong. I'm indifferent to fashion, but I am smart enough to realize that if an author calls out a specific designer when describing a scene, there is probably a reason for it.

"She walked into the room wearing a floor length Vera Wang wedding gown" says something different than "She walked into the room wearing a floor length wedding gown." I don't really follow fashion, but I recognize in the context that the dress in the first sentence means the CHARACTER follows fashion and that it is important to her. It also implies in context that the dress probably cost more than a generic wedding dress. And this could all be terribly important if we know, for example, that the character struggles to pay her bills or has financial problems, because then, hmmmm, wonder who paid for that dress?

Someone who drives a Toyota Prius has different priorities than someone who drives a Ford F-150. You don't need to know the difference between a Honda Civic or a Honda Accord specifically but telling me someone drives a Honda Civic does say something about the person as opposed to, say, driving a Shelby Mustang.

Everyone has a pet peeve. But it is never wrong to provide good description in context, including brand names, if it helps the story.

I didn't say it's wrong. I actually think it's lazy, if I'm being 100% honest.

"She walked into the room wearing a floor length Vera Wang wedding gown," is different than "She walked into the room wearing a floor length lace wedding gown painted with crystals," is different than "she walked into the room wearing a floor length wedding gown."

Pretty confident a crystal-covered wedding gown also costs more than average, but you didn't have to say Vera Wang to get that across. And I agree, it could be very important if someone paid for the dress. I'm heavily into fashion. I love fashion, and I would still be irked if someone said "Vera Wang" over describing the dress. Vera Wang still doesn't tell me much because it assumes all her dresses are the same price point which they aren't. One could be getting one of her more affordable dresses over one of her top of the line dresses.

Plus, if she's struggling to pay her bills, what if she found the dress used at a thrift store? One could describe the Vera Wang dress as frayed at the edges, missing stones, off-colored. Then it's easy to say she could afford it over a description of "crisp white" and "diamonds glistening in ballroom's light". Once you go as far to describe the physical appearance of the dress, the brand label is unnecessary.

I don't know that it's lazy, but rather I think using a brand name can convey various things to the reader. It could be a way of deepening  the character without needing to go overboard with exposition, a form of shorthand. It can be part of an author's voice or lend characterization to the narrator who might come across with more specificity to the reader, deepening voice. Sometimes using brand names can further signify to a reader the genre or subgenre, telegraphs a style, or lets them know they're in the right hands or reading a thing with which they will resonate because it is material they tend to enjoy or it's a kind of treatment of certain material they tend to enjoy.

If I'm reading Bret Easton Ellis or Sophie Kinsella I think it'd be jarring not to see brand names, I think it lends something to their voice if not to their characters. It draws me into their worlds. If I'm reading some schlocky spy story because that's the experience I'm after, I imagine I would appreciate the flashy brand mentions. You can convey something similar to saying "Vera Wang" by further describing a gown in detail, but I don't want to get too wordy or purple, and Vera Wang pretty efficiently gets across what I'm after.

But a larger point could get lost in this digression, and that's the whole thing about being concrete. I think it's more evocative to the reader to say "thrift store" than just "store". That was more what I was getting at. You could say sedan instead of Cadillac, but even if you don't know cars Cadillac will, in most cases, evoke an image and paints a character a certain way.

Then there's the utility of the object itself which being specific can yield benefits, say in a chase scene where the vehicle's capabilities or nuances play a part. Same if you were hiding a body. There's a difference between needing to drop a corpse in the trunk of a Caddie and trying to hide a dead guy in a hatchback. One might convey the killer knows their craft, knows what tools they need, is competent. Another might convey they're a fool, or the story intrigues more because they're forced to make do with something of lesser utility. Possibilities abound.

More directly, I think my eyes would glaze over if the author wrote about the shape and size of a car or a trunk capacity as opposed to just conveying it directly by naming the make, model.

It's true many readers might not understand the distinctions in whatever subject areas, but I read plenty of books where I don't really understand the tech, or the subject matter but I appreciate that it's there because it does seem to add some authorial voice or authenticity to the story I'm reading. Mileage on this varies, of course.


I agree. Personally I worry about legal issues involved.


It was funny I read a book and they totally messed up the visualizations by using brands for cars. The author had the MC being uber rich like multi million dollar house, but they are driving cheapy economy cars. Each time the author used the brand name of the car all the way down to the model. They weren't trying to make the person out to be miserly with their money which would have been the assumption. They just acted like this economy car was an ultra lux brand which was completely confusing in the book.

Yeah, that's kinda funny. I mean, a billionaire driving a beat-up Tercel would intrigue me because it's playing against type, makes me think there's a story there so I'm drawn in. But if it's being played straight as in your example, then yeah that's confusing. I can say I once worked at a place where the owner was super-super rich and he drove a Rav4, so it does happen. But again, if you're trying to convey super rich to the reader of a story, a super lux vehicle probably helps things seem more real.
 

She-la-te-da

Re: The Importance of Fact Checking
« Reply #37 on: February 14, 2019, 12:01:39 AM »
I guess if you're going to use brand names, then make sure you know the brands. If writing something from history, know the facts, even if you choose to alter something or add to it. If you're making stuff up from thin air, be consistent and make sure the reader understands your world (without being info dumpy).

I can't stand when TV shows get stuff wrong any more than I can with books. On the new show, Roswell, New Mexico, there's a military contingent, with one guy in charge. He's a Master Sergeant. One character called him Sir. That just doesn't happen. Even if he's off the reservation and running a secret alien conspiracy investigation, he's not a Sir. Ever. In a similar vein, can someone please make sure people salute properly? It would save me screaming at the TV every week. (They do it properly, as far as I've seen, on Project Blue Book.)
I write various flavors of speculative fiction. This is my main pen name.

 

Bill Hiatt

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Re: The Importance of Fact Checking
« Reply #38 on: February 14, 2019, 02:15:05 AM »
I agree. Personally I worry about legal issues involved.
It always pays to be cautious, but this is an issue that has been much discussed, and, as far as I can tell, the same conclusion is always reached: It's OK to use trademarked names in fiction as long as you follow certain simple guidelines. A quick Google search produces a lot of hits. Here is an example: http://www.rightsofwriters.com/2010/12/can-i-mention-brand-name-products-in-my.html

The four basic principles involved are fairly easy to remember, particularly the most important one--if you need to speak disparagingly of a brand for plot purposes, create a fictional one. Do not use a real one. (Strangely enough, people are seldom sued for saying good things about a company or product.)


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guest957

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Re: The Importance of Fact Checking
« Reply #39 on: February 14, 2019, 05:59:53 AM »
I agree. Personally I worry about legal issues involved.
It always pays to be cautious, but this is an issue that has been much discussed, and, as far as I can tell, the same conclusion is always reached: It's OK to use trademarked names in fiction as long as you follow certain simple guidelines. A quick Google search produces a lot of hits. Here is an example: http://www.rightsofwriters.com/2010/12/can-i-mention-brand-name-products-in-my.html

The four basic principles involved are fairly easy to remember, particularly the most important one--if you need to speak disparagingly of a brand for plot purposes, create a fictional one. Do not use a real one. (Strangely enough, people are seldom sued for saying good things about a company or product.)

Yep, good point. I wouldn't mention a brand in my story if it was going to be something disparaging. I'd make up a brand or company in that case, and that can be fun too.
 

spin52

Re: The Importance of Fact Checking
« Reply #40 on: February 14, 2019, 07:26:26 AM »
Now I'm getting nervous. In my WIP I have someone being shot with a Derringer pistol. I know the years they were manufactured match my book's time frame and that they only held one shot (unless you had the double barrelled type) and that the range was poker-table length. I've seen photos so I can describe it (or them, as they were usually sold in pairs). Anything else?

Biggest thing with derringers is that the round carried very little energy and was tiny. Nobody should be slumping over dead from a derringer shot. If you got a major blood vessel, you could get your guy to bleed out in several minutes. Eye socket and throat are probably quick stops, but anything else usually means the victim is going to die of infection three days later. A thick wad of paper or too many layers of clothing can and will stop the old ones. They were a weapon of last resort.

Thank you for that. I was going to have the victim shot in the chest, but maybe the shooter should aim somewhere where he'd be sure to hit a major blood vessel. He was using the Derringer mostly because it was easy to conceal until he got close to his victim.


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Joseph Malik

Re: The Importance of Fact Checking
« Reply #41 on: February 15, 2019, 01:43:55 AM »
maybe the shooter should aim somewhere where he'd be sure to hit a major blood vessel. He was using the Derringer mostly because it was easy to conceal until he got close to his victim.

In The New Magic, a character dies from an arrow through the shoulder. I've had enough casualty care training to know that the old "just winged him" trope is idiotic. Getting shot in the shoulder is like getting shot in the knee--it's an insanely complex joint--and if you hit the axillary artery, it's like a thumb over a garden hose. They collapse from hemorrhagic shock and they'll be dead in minutes. An attempt to repair a nicked artery in a joint that complicated under austere conditions turns into the Jamie Smith surgery scene from Black Hawk Down.

To the larger point of this thread, it's not a matter of writing what you know as much as knowing what you write. Readers will believe in flying horses if the saddles make sense.

You can also take suspension of disbelief too far; those of you familiar with my ride-or-die fans know where I'm going with this. There are readers out there who will believe damned near anything if you get the details right enough. Use your power wisely.

« Last Edit: February 15, 2019, 03:22:20 AM by Joseph Malik »
 

Scrapper78

Re: The Importance of Fact Checking
« Reply #42 on: February 15, 2019, 02:04:46 AM »
Now I'm getting nervous. In my WIP I have someone being shot with a Derringer pistol. I know the years they were manufactured match my book's time frame and that they only held one shot (unless you had the double barrelled type) and that the range was poker-table length. I've seen photos so I can describe it (or them, as they were usually sold in pairs). Anything else?

Biggest thing with derringers is that the round carried very little energy and was tiny. Nobody should be slumping over dead from a derringer shot. If you got a major blood vessel, you could get your guy to bleed out in several minutes. Eye socket and throat are probably quick stops, but anything else usually means the victim is going to die of infection three days later. A thick wad of paper or too many layers of clothing can and will stop the old ones. They were a weapon of last resort.

Thank you for that. I was going to have the victim shot in the chest, but maybe the shooter should aim somewhere where he'd be sure to hit a major blood vessel. He was using the Derringer mostly because it was easy to conceal until he got close to his victim.

Go with throat. Great gasping gory death scene as guy chokes to death on his own blood. Always a good time to write those...
 

Crystal

Re: The Importance of Fact Checking
« Reply #43 on: February 15, 2019, 04:01:26 AM »
The brand decision is about character and POV more than it's about specificity or accuracy. Someone who happily dresses in Old Navy jeans and t-shirts for utility wouldn't recognize the designer of a wedding dress. It says a lot about someone that they care about the specific designer or the make of a car or a brand of liquor.

A person who notices a sedan has a different opinion of cars that a person who notices a 2005 Camry.
 

spin52

Re: The Importance of Fact Checking
« Reply #44 on: February 16, 2019, 03:40:08 AM »
Now I'm getting nervous. In my WIP I have someone being shot with a Derringer pistol. I know the years they were manufactured match my book's time frame and that they only held one shot (unless you had the double barrelled type) and that the range was poker-table length. I've seen photos so I can describe it (or them, as they were usually sold in pairs). Anything else?

Biggest thing with derringers is that the round carried very little energy and was tiny. Nobody should be slumping over dead from a derringer shot. If you got a major blood vessel, you could get your guy to bleed out in several minutes. Eye socket and throat are probably quick stops, but anything else usually means the victim is going to die of infection three days later. A thick wad of paper or too many layers of clothing can and will stop the old ones. They were a weapon of last resort.

Thank you for that. I was going to have the victim shot in the chest, but maybe the shooter should aim somewhere where he'd be sure to hit a major blood vessel. He was using the Derringer mostly because it was easy to conceal until he got close to his victim.

Go with throat. Great gasping gory death scene as guy chokes to death on his own blood. Always a good time to write those...
Gotcha. One gory, gasping, throat-clutching, choking scene coming up.


Traditional mysteries with a dash of humor -- no cats, no cupcakes.
 

R H Auslander

Re: The Importance of Fact Checking
« Reply #45 on: March 03, 2019, 06:33:55 AM »
Don't get anything wrong about guns. A beta reader told me that few people had heard of an Italian pistol I mentioned, so I did a blanket replacement with Glock. Big mistake. I mentioned the safety and got jumped on in at least one review and several e-mails. Glocks don't have safeties. I knew that, but I didn't pay attention to what I had changed. Gun people are protective of their domain.

I don't know about all Glocks but the one I had many moons ago, which I hated and didn't keep long, had the 'safety' in the trigger. You had to fat finger the trigger to squeeze the safety 'lever' back in the trigger for it to fire. I picked the weapon up in a multi weapon sale and couldn't wait to fob it of.

It's always fun to know about weapons if weapons figure in any way in your writing. Case in point, actually many cases in point, is a way to separate the wheat from the chaff when you are in some bar or other discussion area and, at least true 15 and more years ago, there was always some clown in there telling how many VC he killed in clinical detail and basically how Buster Bad Butt he was.

Since i looked like what I was uniform or no, he would eventually come up for air and start telling me I had to have been 'in the Nam' yadda yadda yadda. I have a simple trick to figure out who is who, but as an aside no one who has really been there and done that discusses such things in a bar with strangers. I just feigned forgetfulness and told 'im to remind me which side of the receiver housing the mag release 'button' was on Komrade Kalashnikov's Ode to World Peace. Great question and the pontificator has at least a 50% chance of hitting the correct guess. Or does he? Either that or ask him how quick he could change the mag in an SKS, both of which were common weapons in that altercation.
 

Joseph Malik

Re: The Importance of Fact Checking
« Reply #46 on: March 03, 2019, 06:39:14 AM »
ask him how quick he could change the mag in an SKS, both of which were common weapons in that altercation.

 :littleclap
 
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R H Auslander

Re: The Importance of Fact Checking
« Reply #47 on: March 03, 2019, 06:50:02 AM »
ask him how quick he could change the mag in an SKS, both of which were common weapons in that altercation.

 :littleclap

Don't tell 'em yet.
 

Joseph Malik

Re: The Importance of Fact Checking
« Reply #48 on: March 03, 2019, 07:16:09 AM »
I found a Russian SKS at an estate sale for a hundred bucks many years back, and it's now hanging on my wall in my writing room. The late owner had outfitted it with a composite folding stock, but the original mag-well was still in place, thank God.

It's a neat, weird little rifle. It does shoot well, although it's purely decorative as it stands; I keep the bolt in my gun safe.

 

R H Auslander

Re: The Importance of Fact Checking
« Reply #49 on: March 03, 2019, 02:17:21 PM »
Like a lot of Sov equipment both military and civilian, it's pretty reliable and still in use today in many countries including ours. Never had a jam in mine or for that matter in a Kalashnikov. Sovs tended to use the KISS principle. Works.
 
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