Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Pesky Little Details

All those pesky little details an author better get right, or else--

Late afternoon yesterday I noticed all our early blooming daffodils, both in the backyard by the kitchen window and by the fence, had fallen over. I thought that may have been due to the strong winds, but just in case it was from the heat, I gave the ones by the kitchen window some water.

This morning, both sets of daffodils had sprung back up, so my conclusion is they didn't like the heat, but revived during the night because it was cooler.

Daffodils do not usually bloom in Illinois this early, nor do forsythia bushes, green grass, and other tulips happen yet. We also don't usually have bees circling our backyard, ants on the sidewalk, gnats in the air, or mosquitos flying around, not to mention 80+ temperatures this early in the season. This year is an exception, which I've heard is due to a jetstream.

If you were writing a book with a setting near Chicago, Illinois, and the timeframe of March, unless you were specifically mentioning this year, all the things I mentioned above wouldn't be here. Instead, to ground your readers in a story, you'd mention snow starting to melt, or grass still brown, if you even see it peeking from the snow. The temperatures would typically be in the 50s, or if you're lucky the 60s.  You might see a few buds on the bushes, or daffodils or tulips beginning to come up, but not blooming. The insects would also be few and far between.

When I wrote Forever Young: Blessing or Curse, I had to check certain details also, such as when the rose bushes bloom, and when they're dormant, what the temperature is in Scottsdale, Arizona compared to Flagstaff, even what time it's sunset in that part of the country. Though I'd taken a trip to Scottsdale in April, 2011, and garnered much  information which proved useful, that didn't mean what I witnessed in April was typical for other times of the year in that area, or even in Flagstaff.

Fortunately, the Internet is a great source for learning such pesky little details. An author needs to get them right,  because, God forbid, if they're wrong, a reader will notice.

What other pesky little details should authors be aware of? Can you share any you've encountered when writing a book?

By the way, the thriller I mentioned, Forever Young: Blessing or Curse, is on sale on kindle at 99 cents through March 24, 2012, after which it returns to $1.99.  It's also available at the regular price of $1.99 in other electronic formats, and is in print for $12.87.

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Unknown said...

Details, details. Yes, so true. Plus those pesky punctuation rules--I just put up a blog about Apostrophes Gone Wild!
Since I know Texas so well, as you know your state, it is a big annoyance when I see sometime mention the wrong flower, etc.such as calling Bluebonnets Bluebells. No, no, no.
Thanks...good post.

T. Forehand said...

Details are so important and sometimes my downfall because I assume the reader knows what I know as the writer of a piece. Not so, and the details are important to make the reader believe.

Cheryl said...

Great post, Morgan. Since I write historical pieces, I need to the every day details for the time period right; everything from fashion to manner of speaking. Even some of the names of places could be different.

The Internet is a big help, but I find I still rely on books a lot for those types of details.

Rebecca said...

I always feel cheated when a movie or television show says they are filming somewhere and because I live in the Valley north of Hollywood I recognize all the locations. People know the area where they live and they do notice the little things when reading or watching tv.

Morgan Mandel said...

Goes to show, you can't fool readers!

Morgan Mandel said...

very interesting. as always