Continuity and accuracy

I’m a stickler for continuity in any story, be it in a novel, TV programme or film, which is probably why I never get anything finished. I’m so obsessed with making sure everything flows properly, that events happen at the time they are supposed to have happened, and if it’s meant to be realistic, it should be realistic.

(I may have exaggerated slightly there by saying I never get anything finished. I do finish things, it just takes slightly longer).

This article about the accuracy of crime fiction, which bemoans the lack of proficient editing when it comes to writing about correct crime solving techniques, claims that in this situation “Nobody knows what to believe because there is no filter.” This is another reason why I have a list of plot ideas that I haven’t followed up yet – research is the key, and although it isn’t a task I find tedious, it certainly is time consuming.

Some people can be overly picky, I suppose, about small issues. But when it comes to science, it does pay to get it right (it doesn’t always pay with £££, but with respect. No one wants to look like a fool because the entire plot of their novel rests on a scientific technique the author doesn’t understand and has described incorrectly). As the author quoted in this article attests:  “The more detailed one gets into the technical issues, the riskier it all becomes. A small phrase you get wrong and it’s astonishing how many emails you get, with blistering speed, telling you how you got it wrong.”

So, the Washington Academy of Sciences, established by Alexander Graham Bell in 1898, has introduced a seal of approval for those books that do get their scientific facts straight. Will having this seal lead to more sales? Probably not. But the authors, if they’re anything like me, will most appreciate the recognition for their detailed research and their passion to get it right.



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