We write fiction. Yet we all know about the readers who insist that details be accurate and who’ll ream out an author if she gets something wrong – like the year a certain item of clothing became fashionable, or the calibre of a gun. This makes me wonder about a few things:
• If you’re a writer, when do you choose to bend the truth for the sake of the story?
• What details do readers want to be accurate? Vampires don’t exist (probably), but readers seem quite willing to accept them in fiction – and yet they’ll fuss over the accuracy of period clothing. How come?
• Do readers hold all fiction writers to the same standards of accuracy? Are they more lenient with paranormal, fantasy or futuristic? Less lenient with contemporary or historical?
• Do people nit-pick with TV shows and movies as well as books? For example, when CSI shows crime scene investigators trampling all over a crime scene in street clothing, shedding hair, fibres and who knows what all else, do a bunch of viewers write to tell them they’ve got it all wrong? Or when cases on Boston Legal go to court in a period of days, do viewers write to say that in real life the same process would take a year or more? (I don’t mean to pick on these shows – they happen to be two of my favorites! – and I’m quite prepared to accept the inaccuracies for the sake of great characters and an interesting story.)