Writing Reader Observation: Just the Facts, Jack

It’s been awhile since I’ve done one of these.  They’re mainly influenced by my reading, which must be a good sign, right?


So lately I’ve been reading quite a number of books that take liberties with facts. Some I would have thought most people know like bears hibernate in winter. Am I wrong? Isn’t this common knowledge?

Others, like a UK writer describing a character’s upbringing in Virginia where they rarely had to put the heating on in comparison to Cornwall where it was very cold. Just for the heck of it, I Googled average temperatures between the two locations (because I know firsthand what Virginia temps are like and because I am anal regarding books and facts) and found that Virginia’s average temps were lower in the winter than this location in Cornwall.

There are an assortment of things that foreign writers get wrong about the States, which makes me think that they do most of their research via movies and TV. 🙁

But now, I have a question for you. Does it bother you at all when you read something in a novel that you know is wrong? Or, do you just shrug it off and read on?

Years ago, when I was taking some writing courses, the object was to keep your reader in the fictional dream, meaning that you want them to stay part of the story. If you read a lot, you know what this fictional dream is. It’s when you are pretty much unaware of anything else. When I come up against inane phrases or factual mistakes, I am tossed right out of that fictional dream and sometimes find it hard to get back in.

What about you? Has this happened to you? Do you care if a writer is making up as many facts as the story they are providing?

Love to hear your opinions.

Sascha D who constantly Googles everything and whose picture can be found in the dictionary under tangents.



5 thoughts on “Writing Reader Observation: Just the Facts, Jack

  1. It really bugs me and it undermines my confidence in the whole book. I seldom read fiction so that means I have found flaws in non-fiction and this would indicate slap dash research or just plain laziness or ….worst of all…..an assumption that the reader is ignorant of the true facts. That’s enough from me on this topic.

    1. Thanks, Anne. It’s unfathomable that you would find errors in non-fiction, especially since many of us consider non-fiction books to be references of sorts.
      Considering how easy it is to double-check facts (although you can’t always believe what you read on the webz) via google, I’m surprised that writers don’t think to check themselves.

      1. One memorable one was a writer who said that the use of martingale in dressage competition was not nice for the horse. Martingales are not permitted in dressage competition at any level, anywhere in the world. Any rider appearing in the ring with one would be disqualified even befor the test started. The steward would eliminate them in the warm up ring. So I just shook my head at that one.

      2. This person is a professional horse photographer. I don’t know if she rides and this error was in her introduction to a book of her photographs.

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