A Writer’s Path is featuring a great interview with spec-fic author Larry Correia. Larry offers sound advice on traditional vs. self-publishing, the importance of marketing, and the absolute necessity of doing your homework so your readers are pulled in by the authenticity of your narrative. The focus of the interview is firearms, modern and antique, but Correia notes that “It isn’t just guns, but any topic where the reader is an expert and the author is clueless.”
So true. Here are some of the mistaken assumptions I’ve seen as an editor and while critiquing other writers:
– A pipsqueak, whether male or female, who’s secretly a “martial arts expert,” deftly pounds a muscle-bound bully into submission. Without getting a scratch. Yeah. Okay, I’ve been in both judo and karate tournaments, and trust me, sparring is ALWAYS strictly separated by sex, rank, and weight. Even among trained fighters, size matters.
– Same martial arts expert rams the bully’s nose bone into his brain, instantly killing him. Wrong. It can’t be done.
– Starting a fire by rubbing two loose sticks together. Please – step away from the computer, go outside – way outside – and spend the weekend camping. It’ll do you good, as well as teaching you a thing or two about life in the wild.
There are countless other pitfalls caused by relying on movies and TV for your research. Don’t do it. A writer needs a storehouse of experience to infuse his fiction with verisimilitude. When I was researching Cameron Obscura, I taught myself how to rappel down a wall. It was a blast, and it provided me with a gold mine of sensory details that made the story come alive.