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Never Let the Facts get in the Way of Good Story

by on April 12, 2014
Image courtesy of Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Never let the facts get in the way of a good story. It amazes me that some authors think that’s a true statement. Maybe it’s just me. I know a story is imaginary and didn’t really happen, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t make it one that could happen.
One of the things that slows me down the most when writing is reality. I know it’s crazy, especially when I write paranormal as well as contemporary romance, but it does. I want my stories to be believable. I hate the idea of someone saying… ‘oh that could never happen’… when reading my books.
There are two times when people can say this. One is when they couldn’t believe people would be that cruel, giving, stupid, etc. I’ve had people say it’s ridiculous that the three girls of my Growing Strong Series gave up their scholarships for the fourth girl. That kind of disbelief is one of human spirit and is based on our own journeys in life. I get that. Not everyone has had friends that loyal. Much like I have problems with criminal minds because I don’t see how it’s okay for the antagonist to kill three people, but if the hero kills in retribution he deserves to die for wronging the original killer.
The other ‘that can’t happens’ come from knowing how things work in different fields. I recently was watching a movie and thought there are some things that should have been fact checked. Like the fact you can’t get a collect call from a prison at two in the morning. Or the fact that a murder trial, no matter how quickly it’s pushed through is still going to take at least three months. So, you’re not going to be able to go to the scene and find fresh cigarettes butts after three months in Chicago during the winter. There’s a weird thing that happens in Chicago in the winter, it’s called snow.
This is where you’ll lose a reader or viewer. There’s only so much imagination one can take. Backing up your writing with facts and making sure that, yes, that is the drug that would be dispensed during a stroke is not to make you as the writer look smart. It’s to make you as the writer keep your audience.
Let me know what book or movie threw you out by ignoring the facts?

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5 Comments
  1. Great post! It reminded me of my brother who ruined a family viewing of Air Force One with Harrison Ford by telling us that C-4 doesn’t won’t explode if you shoot it like it was done in the movie. Apparently is requires a detonator. We no longer watch action and adventure with him.

    • michelprince permalink

      See… It’s so easy to write, until there’s an expert in a room.

  2. Interesting post. I always remember how Franz Kafka disdained verisimilitude in his novel Amerika. It actually endeared me to him. As a former librarian, movies with inaccurate librarian stereotypes always irritated me. Librarians do not go around shhhhing these days.

    • michelprince permalink

      Stereotypes are a whole other post with how irritating they are to me.

  3. @Fossie, maybe librarians *should* go around shushing people these days, but don’t get me started. @Michel, great topic for a post! I try to keep my stories as realistic as possible when writing about fairy godmothers and magical djinn. An impossible premise makes it all the more important to keep everything else in the story well-grounded.

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