Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Even fiction writers should get their facts straight.

I just stumbled on the following phrase in a murder mystery I’m reading: “woolen black cotton suit.” And stumbled is the right verb to use. It threw me right out of the story. If the suit was cotton, it could not have been woolen. Conversely, if the suit were woolen, it could not have been made of cotton.

It might be fiction but those small details should be correct. When an author takes his time (and the reader’s time) to describe loading and firing a flintlock long gun, that description should be accurate. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pn7lxMP_qBc

A bush hog or brush hog mows, it doesn’t dig. The beautiful hibiscus flower has no scent. And you don’t use a silencer on a revolver.

You can buy something identified as a silencer for revolvers, but as a former police officer once described them—“They’re as useless as tits on a bull.” And for those of you who do not know…bulls do have teats, but they serve no useful purpose.

If you’re a writer and don’t know first-hand about something, look it up, ask someone who knows, use something else that you do know about.

Think about it.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Maurice Sendak

“Max stepped into his private boat and waved goodbye.”  Our Maurice Sendak died yesterday.
Writing teachers exhort us to “show not tell.” Maurice Sendak did that. Now if I can just achieve those kinds of visuals with language...
Maurice Sendak trusted his readers. He trusted the children and the people who love them to follow a story without spoon-feeding them every little detail or telling the moral. That’s what makes his books as big as his readers can imagine.