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Please... Just The Facts

Ahhh, the infamous line uttered every week by Joe Friday, usually preceded by "the names have been changed to protect the innocent"... a favourite in my parent's house and one I've seen on reruns...(no I wasn't born yet in the late 50's and early 60's so I did have to see them through syndication, lol). But it doesn't change the question on whether there's some truth to the statement?

Over the last little while, between edits, reading and trying to write new material, I've been examining the use of factual information in our craft. For obvious reasons, there's a need to get some of the facts straight. Makes of cars, the kind of gun an officer carries, the proper procedures for an interrogation... all of these have to have accurate information in order to create a believable world for our readers. But what about other information? When do "just the facts" become bothersome and down right annoying?

I think every writer has their own take on this. I, for one, love making stuff up, lol. But on the flip side, I've come to realize, sometimes, I worry too much about having something correct instead of whether that particular piece of information is really crucial to the story. For example, in my novel coming out in November, Deadly Vision, I wanted to make sure the procedures carried out by my heroine, Fallon, while she's at work as a 911 operator were spot on. Having been one, I knew the correct terminology. But when my editor questioned me on a couple of the phrases, I realized sometimes being correct isn't the most important aspect if the general public doesn't understand what you mean. Simplifying, to a point, has some advantages, as long as it doesn't give the reader false information or make them feel like you haven't done your homework.

But what about characters? I was reading a great blog the other day that talked about breast size. Not being overly endowed in that department, I'll admit I don't tend to write large breasted women. I don't mind a lady with large breasts, but I wonder if it's necessary to tell me the exact size? Is it crucial to the story to know she's a 36DD? It's the same with men. Do I really need to have you tell me he's six foot five and a half inches tall? Is it enough to say he's long, thick and hard or do I need to provide exact dimensions? When are the facts too specific for the story?

I imagine it's a personal choice. For me, I prefer a little less information when it comes to the characters and just a few lines to give the general gist of things. Supply the basics and then allow me create my own luscious image in my head, because in the end, my idea of gorgeous, hunky, hot and dangerous might be different from yours.

I could argue this goes for every aspect of writing. Too many details tends to bore me and I'll find myself skipping pages to get to more interesting aspects. But at the same time, I don't want to get half way through the novel to find out the hero is really an alien with three arms. For me, I've had to step back and realize I don't need to time stamp every event to ensure you're following along, and giving you facts a bit at a time allows you to digest the scenario without blurting it all out in an endless stream of babble.

It would seem to be a fine line between just enough and too much. Information that will create the image you're striving for, and stuff that just pulls the reader out and leaves them shaking their head.

So how much "facts" do you like in your stories? Do you like the room described down to the wallpaper or do you want to know it's sparsely decorated with the typical male essentials? Do you like the author to give you an exact description of the characters down to the stylish mole above their lip, or just enough so you have that sexy image of your own hero stamped in your brain?

Well, that's all for now. I'd love to know your thoughts. Oh, and next month, I'll actually be able to do a bit of shameless promo mixed in with my post. My first story with TEB, Sacred Talisman, will be released October 26th as part of the Voracious Vamps collection and I'm tickled pink. Heck, I might be able to blog about Cover Art and everything! Yes, the rantings of a newbie... wide-eyed and awe inspired.

Have a great last go at summer and we'll catch you next month.
Romancing adventure at a time.


Kim Dare said...

Hi Kris,

I'm with you - just give the basic discription, let me take it from there.

As for getting things right. If details are mentioned, I like them to be correct. But at the same time, making stuff up is where my heart really lies.

There's a reason you won't find real places mentioned in my books very often. No one can tell me that it actually takes 10 minutes to walk from location a to location b rather than five. It's my world - my facts are always right :D

Take care,

Kim Dare.

Kris Norris said...

Hey Kim

That's probably why I LOVE your books. I never get bogged down in details I just don't need. And I'm with you... creating stuff works best as long as the important stuff is accurate.