This Is Me--2019 A to Z Theme

The Challenge of 2019 was the 10th! Since this was kind of a milestone year for A to Z my theme was a retrospective of sorts, looking at my 10 years as a blogger as well as ruminations about my life as it is and as I hope it yet can be. I've got places to be and people to see along the way. Hope you'll join me for this part of my journey...

Always a work in progress--welcome to my blog.

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Wednesday, November 6, 2019

A Stickler for Detail ( #IWSG )



Have you ever read a story where the author has made some glaring errors that made you lose all credibility in the story being told?  I don't want to be that author...




The Insecure Writer's Support Group

Join us on the first Wednesday of each month in Alex J. Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Support Group--a forum of writers who gather to talk about writing and the writer's life. For a complete list of participants visit Alex's Blog


The co-hosts for the November 6 posting of the IWSG are Sadira Stone, Patricia Josephine, Lisa Buie-Collard, Erika Beebe, and C. Lee McKenzie!




November 6 question - What's the strangest thing you've ever googled in researching a story?

 It's All in the Details
        
         As I had mentioned in my previous post (which is a Battle of the Bands post if you'd be so kind to visit and vote), my last successful attempt at doing NaNoWriMo was in 2010 when I wrote a science fiction novel called Time Light.  Even though the story is science fiction, it takes place in 1965 Chicago.  Written in diary entry form, I was dealing with actual dates and places in history so it was important (to me at least) to be as accurate as I could in every way.

         In order to achieve accuracy, I spent hours on Google looking up places, police procedures and equipment, the daily weather conditions, transportation routes (bus and rail, etc), and even what was playing on television on certain specific days.  Anything that begged for a detail in the story that could potentially (though probably not likely) be questioned by a reader in the know was meticulously researched so that any reader could accept what I was saying as possibly real.  

         A reader like I often tend to be needs to be convinced that the story one is investing in has a reasonable degree of credibility.   A single glaring error or inconsistency might put into question other elements of the written work which can detract from reading pleasure.

          Though it would be unlikely that many (if any at all) would question the daily weather in a story that has real dates and times, my researching of the weather conditions was one my stranger Google searches.  Fortunately, I found numerous resources available on line with weather records dating back to further than my interests necessitated in this case.  The weather for the  year 1965 is well documented in numerous sites.

          I realize that this sort of detail might seem rather trivial and nonessential to many, but for me it was important.  As I was conceiving the story I was also living it in my mind so that every detail had to make me feel like I was there.  If it worked for me then hopefully it would work even for the most discerning reader.

           Frequently I've heard writers mention that researching can be fun and I would agree with that.  I love the researching part more than the writing part.  To me, the researching is an essential part of any writing especially when the writer doesn't actually know all the real details or facts.

           What is the strangest thing you've ever googled for a story or some other written work?  Do you strive for the greatest amount of accuracy when you start delving into details?    Why should anyone care about what the weather was in the time period where a story takes place?


Don't forget to vote on my Battle of the Bands!   (click the link to get there)













37 comments:

  1. Wow, I get to be first! Woot!

    Sorry for the lengthy time frame between visits as I am unable to access your blog on IE11, but can with Chrome.

    Anyhow, the blandest thing I've researched on Google was how to drive a non-automatic motorcycle. The MC for my story used one as her main mode of transportation, thus I really needed to get the particulars correct.

    The strangest thing that I researched for a story did not involve Google, but involved actual people and related to certain parts of a woman's anatomy (which everyone can find out in greater detail on my blog).

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    1. GB, good to see you again! Google research does help to gain insight about things we know nothing about.

      Lee

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  2. I'm trying to write a book to "Celebrate" my late son's life but have hit a block owing to extreme bad weather damaging the roof.
    Have a good month Lee.

    Yvonne.

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    1. Yvonne, too bad about the bad weather and roof damage. I wish you well in your writing.

      Lee

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  3. I bet you know a lot about that year now. If it was winter, I'm sure the weather was crappy in Chicago.

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    1. Alex, I've probably forgotten most of what I found out back then. I forget a lot of things these days. Actually the story takes place between April and May so the weather was springlike with bouts of rain.

      Lee

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  4. They say "The truth is in the details" for a reason. Well done to you for making sure yours were accurate!

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    1. Liza, I don't like to be called out on mistakes I've made so I'd rather get it right from the start.

      Lee

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  5. I did a lot of research for my 5 book series but not as much as you did.

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    1. L.Diane, I guess I do more research than actual writing so maybe I overdo it.

      Lee

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  6. Research is fun, but oh my I can get lost in it and not do the writing. You should finish that book.

    Teresa

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    1. Teresa, I tend to do research just for the fun of it. I like to discover new things.

      Lee

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  7. I do love research. I too, don't want anyone to have issues with what I write about detail-wise. I want my readers to trust me.

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    1. Lisa, getting the reader's trust makes it more likely they will keep coming back to read more.

      Lee

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  8. Lee,

    The one thing that bothered me about writing is the lack personal experience and I always stumbled to develop what's in my head into sentences and paragraphs to form a solid story. I just stumbled. The Interent can change this for me if I'd just allow myself to let down those early barriers and give it a stab but I haven't gotten to that point. That all being said, I definitely do get where you're coming from and can myself being a lot like you. As for what's the most unusual subject to Google...well, I have Googled some crazy stuff on a personal level but whatever research I do I always love doing it. The Internet certainly makes it so much easier today and I don't have to leave home to do it. Yes, I do try to be accurate with whatever content I gather from the net to use in blog posts. I not only what to get it right but I want people to trust what I've put down to be reliable or as dependable as the sources I find and if something turns out to be different then I correct the content asap. You asked about the weather... I think the readers is drawn into solid sounding material. They feel like they are experienceing the scene whatever you write about, so if the wind rushes just outside the window and the sound of raindrops hitting the roof sound like quarters bouncing off then you kinda get caught up in the sceniro. Words become a motion picture in the brain with such descriptiveness and utltimately is what separates an average writer from a best-selling author or so that's what I think. :)

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    1. Cathy, it's a good exercise to do something intense like NaNo where you can just let go and write almost without overthinking what you are writing. Later you can go back to polish and revise. Our inner editor can really hold us back in our letting loose to just write what's in our heads.

      Lee

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  9. That must be a relief, preferring research to the writing,wish I felt like that. Writing historical fiction I’m always glued to some factual report or other...

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    1. Lost, writing fiction based on real people and events calls for good in-depth investigation. I have fun in exploration, but it's more work writing up the report.

      Lee

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  10. I think- in my past attempts, the research was the one real prize in writing the story.

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    1. CW, I often just research things for fun or to satisfy my curiosity.

      Lee

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  11. Absolute accuracy is essential when I make stuff up, like stories and poems. You cannot have too many details.

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    1. Michael, if I don't need to immerse myself in a moment then a lot of details don't matter, but mostly I want to know everything even if I don't show it all in my writing. I want to know at least.

      Lee

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    2. I have written a great deal of material, based in or on Canada. My reason for this was, for years, my best friend, lived in Canada. I wanted to impress her, so I tried my best to get it right. Often, I would ask her questions, as part of my research. When I was out to surprise her, I was on my on. It was ongoing, always a work in progress. Eventually, we grew apart, and my writing slowed down, to the point, I just stopped. That is why the blog you visited seems dormant. I have not posted there in two years. I suppose I really should get back up on that horse...
      Pardon me for rambling. I seem to have gotten carried away.

      Delete
  12. Credibility is one of my fears. Losing it, I mean. I do my best to stick to the facts, but being human puts the odds against me. :-/

    Anna from elements of emaginette

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    1. Anna, a lot of things can happen to strain credibility but that's what editors, beta readers, or who ever we get to read us are for.

      Lee

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  13. t sounds like you did an impeccable job with your NaNo novel! I'm with you about the research; definitely more fun than the writing, which I find rather torturous, most times. Minor details are essential in bringing any story to life. They are what make it real to the reader.

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    1. Debbie D, I like getting lost in my writing while hopefully not letting the reading get overly lost.

      Lee

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  14. I need to get better at research because I either go down a rabbit hole and forget to do the actual writing or cut research short so I can get words down. I love history and would love to write something historical myself, but I'm daunted by the amount of research involved. I can see why it's important to get the weather right because no doubt it would have an effect on characters' moods and consequently, their actions. And it's something most people tend to bring up when it comes to small talk!

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    1. Nick, I like the rabbit hole chases, but they do distract. Weather is something that influences us all in a big way--like food.

      Lee

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  15. I guess the details do matter. Though not so sure whether I'd question the weather.

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    1. Bernadette, I guess I'd rather be accurate than have some reader make a deal out of it later. Probably not likely, but you never know.

      Lee

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  16. Hi Lee!
    I love the depth of this post. You’ve informed and inspired with such confident insight I feel like I just attended a seminar ;-) As a reader and a writer, I love details. I think they’re necessary elements of any setting. Even the smallest detail about weather or current events (as they were) are essential in establishing time and place for historical stories, including fiction. For instance, the Great Chicago Fire (1871) might not have destroyed an entire town if not for (one thing) a lengthy drought.

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    1. Diedre, sometimes the weather is a significant part of the story if not the story itself. In my case the weather had little bearing on the story, but knowing about that weather was important for me to immerse myself in it.

      Thank you for your flattering words about my post. Golly durn!.

      Lee

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  17. Hello Arlee,

    Been very long!

    I guess I love both - researching as well as writing. Though sometimes I do wish I had more time to lap up all the research, before I could get started with the writing. So much to learn and assimilate.

    Yes, I am a stickler for accuracy. Even the weather conditions of a certain place, irrelevant to the reader may hold immense value in my scheme of things. After all it may help shape the story further, lending it a new dimension.

    Good to be back here after aeons.

    Have a great weekend!

    https://natashamusing.com/2019/11/chance-encounters-with-cheetahs-african-adventures-wordlesswednesday/

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  18. Natasha, good to see you here again. Life gets in the way of blogging I know. I haven't been around much these days either.

    Lee

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  19. I don’t really think googling the historical weather is odd. Lately I’ve been studying charts so I know when sunrise and sunset are on my (fictional) Pismawallops Island, and refreshing my memory of just how dark winter is in the Seattle area.

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    1. Rebecca, I really don't think it's odd either. It's a world that exists even if it is part of a fiction and if it exists then actually being real can be important. Especially to a stickler like me.

      Lee

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Lee