Is that right?
PCT's, Positive CJ Thoughts, hit me at strange times. Sometimes they are more positive than others and sometimes they are just thoughts. That's what this weeks are, just thoughts about fiction.
My nephew recently started doing research for his social studies project on the Titanic.
His teacher specifically said they were not allowed to use Wikipedia as a source and that everything in their reports had to be verified by two sources.
The reason, I told him, was that not everything on Wikipedia comes from a reputable or even correct source. Anyone can add to the listing. That goes for many other notable 'scoop' sites. Is everything on there a lie? No, but sifting through the truth can be difficult.
Back when I was in school, research meant going to the library to be able to look up facts in black and white on the pages of a book or magazine.
If you were researching an event, you went to the non-fiction sources to verify facts.
Now we have this incredible tool called the internet and Google.
Sadly, I think it's harder to find the truth now that we have endless possibilities to search through. The internet has changed how we purchase items, get our news, and share our life.
Before it was an everyday part of our life, when you needed to research something, you turned to reputable sources.
I'm a fiction writer. My job is to write a story that will intrigue and entertain you, but I can tell you that it's still important to be as factual as I can.
I'm not a science fiction writer. I applaud those writers because their brain works on another atmospheric plane. Most authors can tell you that they spend hours researching topics great and small. A good police detective would swear the browser history of a crime or mystery writer is about to kill someone off. Humm, wonder what my next work-in-progress is about?
We try and make it real for our readers.
My editor can tell you about the winding road I took her down in my upcoming novel, The Bucket List. Details matter to a reader. More than once CK came back to me with, 'check the mileage … that area wouldn't allow an open flame at that time of year.
We made the adjustments to make it closely match reality. BUT it's still fiction so there are some liberties.
If I want to project something that 'may' be possible, I set my novels a little in the future. Take 'frame by frame'. https://www.amazon.com/frame-CJ-Murphy-ebook/dp/B077RSJJCM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1542383251&sr=8-1&keywords=frame+by+frame+cj+murphy
Some of the features of Val's prosthetic leg are on the drawing board but have yet to be fully implemented. The research I did showed me the direction the process is headed and I used that in my story.
Val buys a new Jeep truck that won't be available until 2020, so… that's when the story was set for.
It was a simple fix, one small fact that could easily be missed when you look at fiction as reality.
Even as fiction writers, there are standards we try to meet so as not to alienate our readers. How many reviews have you read that say, 'it would never happen like that'? If you are writing about a specific profession, procedure, or event, try to remember there are still laws of physics, human limitations and levels of understanding. I've read books where I've stopped and tried to picture what was being portrayed while asking 'is it humanly possible for this hand to be here and that to be there?' If I don't know something, I research it or try and find a subject matter expert that can help me. In 'The Bucket List', I called upon Bev Prescott, Bywater Books, author of---
2° (a fantastic dystopian climate change novel)
https://www.bywaterbooks.com/product/2-o-by-bev-prescott/ , to help me with a few things about a National Park that she was very familiar with.
My Yoda, a fellow Desert Palm Press Author AJ Adaire, https://www.ajadaire.com/,
helped with a temperature issue in that same park because she'd been there at that time of year.
My point is, I WANT TO GET IT RIGHT! In order to do that, I called on someone who had first-hand knowledge of what I was trying to convey. I've been blessed to serve as a subject matter expert because of my years as a professional firefighter.
Several questions have come my way about how someone, or something, would react in a fire. Unfortunately, because of my expertise, when I write something related to my profession, I can get too detailed. More than once my wife has said I was getting stuck in the weeds trying to be too precise about something. Balance, it's all about balance.
My point is this, do the research and find reputable sources. It's worth it in the end. There is a bar in New Orleans I'm putting on my list of must-go-see's because of the research I did for 'The Bucket List' and more than one National Park.
Give your reader a level of believe-ability that doesn't stop them dead in their tracks as they read.
I'm blessed to work with great people that help make my novels better. I can't thank them enough for keeping me on track. CK, you rock. AJ, I couldn't do this without you. To my Beta's…what can I say? You encourage me every time you send me something back with positive words of encouragement….and the one million typos you catch.
Lee, at Desert Palm Press, is putting the last paper proof edits in and we (fingers crossed) hope to have it available for purchase next week.
Until then, find your truth or lose yourself in a little fiction. Pick up a book and support your favorite authors with a review when you've finished. It really does make a difference.
On one last note, my heart is breaking for California and the horrific fires out there.
Take some time to check into your local emergency procedures, sign up for alerts and make a plan as to what you and your family would do in a disaster.
(I know, there was an issue with the alerts but please sign up, they work more than they don't.)
Memorize a few phone numbers of people you would want to notify in case of an emergency. Most of us only have those in our phones now. If it's lost or dead, it may be difficult to make notification of your safety and location. Lastly, thank the emergency response personnel who likely lost everything as well and stayed on the job to help keep you safe.