I said, in this post, Writing Your Book: Write First, Research Later | Write a Book: Just Write A Book Blog:
“Forget “write what you know”.
Focus on “write what you want to know, or can look up, or ask someone about.”
Specifically, you need to know the genre in which you’re writing.
Make sure you’re widely-read in your chosen genre, so that you get the details right. Genre readers know their chosen genre. If you make mistakes you could and should have corrected in your second or third draft, you’ll look like a klutz.
* Let’s say you’re writing a serial killer mystery. You need to get the crime scenes right. Groups like crimescenewriter on Yahoo help with specific questions. ASK the questions when you’re revising your novel to make sure you get the details of crime scenes and police procedure right. Interview a real live homicide detective;
* Let’s say you’re writing a Regency romance. You need to be up on all the details of this period. That includes knowing how a character would address a duke’s heir, and how the duchess would be addressed. It means understanding roads and how people travelled in that era.
I was skimming reviews on Amazon this morning (I read them for fun), and had a giggle when a first-time writer was scalded with one-star and two-star reviews for her Regency romance. Reviewers called her on easily-corrected mistakes. The mistakes she made which readers mentioned could have been corrected by spending ten minutes checking details. I hope the author corrects those mistakes.
When you’re writing a genre novel, your readers are aficionados of the genre, and in the case of historical novels, they’ve read many novels set in the period you’ve chosen.
It’s impossible to write the “perfect” novel, and never make mistakes. You will make mistakes in every novel you write. However, those mistakes shouldn’t be egregious. If something’s easy to look up — details of crime scene procedures, Regency-period forms of address — look them up.
The fear of making mistakes shouldn’t stop you writing. You WILL make mistakes. That’s fine. Just do your best to correct mistakes. ASK questions. Check your facts. For aficionados of a genre, an author’s mistakes, especially if they show the author’s been lazy, show disrespect for readers.
Respect your readers. Do your best. If you aren’t 100% sure of something, ask questions. As we’ve said, you will make mistakes. Just don’t make too many of them, and when you do make a mistake correct it as soon as you can.
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