How I write #3
Readers are persnickity. Yes, I mean you. And me. We find problems in books all the time. Often it has to do with our professions or hobbies, where we know a LOT about a subject. And often the author doesn’t. And they make some little slipup and we tend to take them to task for it, even if only in our minds.
Now, usually it’s not so bad. We look at it, laugh, and say, “Huh, that’s wrong.” and we go on from there.
I did get a very low rating from a person once, though, that did the math on a gambling win that one of my characters made at Vegas. He knew how the game worked, what the odds were and how the payouts went. And I was apparently way off in my math.
I learned two things from this. First and foremost, if you’re going to give detail about an event, make sure your details are right! Second, if you don’t know the details, obfuscate!
I will never make anything specific in a book, ever again most likely. For instance, if Bailey wins money at Vegas I’ll likely be vague about what it is that she’s doing. And about how much she wins. I’ll likely say “a whole shipload of money” or the like.
In fact, I use this method most of the time, really. One big for instance is the nano-tech that I make constant use of in the Jane series of books. I make sure to have it sound really cool, and give an explanation that makes some sense, but I make sure that there’s nothing that pins me down to reality.
So, my suggestion to you as a writer is to watch for absolutes and avoid them like the plague. And as a reader, I try to give the author some leeway when she wanders into my area of expertise. Although, if it’s egregious enough, I might write an email. Personally, I like getting email from my readers. And if I have something really dumb in one of my books, I’d like a chance to fix it rather than take the hit with a one-star rating on Amazon.
Til next time!
As Isaac Asimov said, “nothing has to be true but everything has to sound true.”
Indeed. It’s a fine line that we liars travel. 🙂
Where there is a will, there is a way.