About Me

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I love being a mom and a wife. I've married to a man I would do anything for, and we have three beautiful children. I see so much of myself in both of them that it sometimes brings me to tears (happy ones).

I also love writing. Romance to be specific. I love the happily ever after that I believe everyone deserves. My stories aren't 'stop and smell the roses' type romances. While I believe everyone deserves happiness and true love, I know that sometimes you have to walk a hard road to find it. Those are the types of stories I like to write. The happily ever after that wasn't found, but earned. I work to earn mine on a daily basis and so do my characters. 

I am also working on a children's picture book series. Inspired (of course) by my kiddos. :)

On the non-writing front, I play acoustic guitar, sing, read like I get paid for it, ride horses, hike, paint rocks, and support a rather obsessive addiction to Pinterest.

I love to cook, which combined with my pinning addiction, leads to many experiments foisted on my unsuspecting husband and kids, mostly with good results. But sometimes, the dogs gets what the family refuses to eat. And they never complain. 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Problems With Continuity and Fact Checking - Thursdays with the Author

The Problems With Continuity and Fact Checking

Ok, so really this could be split into two separate posts, but in an effort to not be as long-winded as I usually am, I'll keep it in one.

Thanks to the plethora of books I am now reading for my Weekend Review post, I'm now seeing A LOT more self-published and small-press published works than I've previously read. This has brought up a lot of thoughts, like 'HOW do some people get traditionally published with the crap they write?' type thoughts, but at risk of sounding like a bitter know-it-all, I won't go into that. ;)

One problem I've seen that crops up might seem small to the author but is HUGE to the reader.  Hence the title of this post. So here's a definition to start us off...

Continuity: the unbroken and consistent existence or operation of something over a period of time

This word is commonly used in describing a series of books or movies when speaking of how each novel/movie ties in with the one before. Each book or movie could, in theory, stand on its' own legs but since it's part of a series, it has to fit in with the stories before AND after it.

 For example: Alice, in the Twilight Saga movies, cannot see the futures of the werewolves or the hybrids because she never was one. So anything that happens with Jacob or Renesmee, she's completely blind to. But in the last movie, Breaking Dawn Part 2, she has a vision of Renesmee all grown up and living happily-ever-after with Jacob, and Bella and Edward are there, la-dee-dah. But that is a HUGE continuity error. Alice SHOULD have only been able to see Edward and Bella. She's supposed to be blind to Jacob and Renesmee's future. The movie creators simply added this to more easily show the 'happily ever after' even though it wasn't needed and had major continuity issues. 

I feel that continuity also goes hand-in-hand with Fact Checking. Especially with anything written in what is considered historical fiction and/or fantasy.

To me, fantasy is whole new worlds, new cultures, new possibilities. Like Alegesia in The Inheritance Cycle. 

But there's another part of fantasy that seems to be hugely popular. 

The alternate-Earth type fantasy. These books take place on Earth, with real places, people, and events, but twists the reality of it to fit the story-line for the author. I've done this myself in my Irish Treasures Saga. It takes place on Earth, in Ireland to be exact, but guess what? Magic, mythology, shape-shifters, evil monsters? They're actually real. Stephanie Meyer did this in the Twilight Saga. Takes place on Earth, in Forks, Washington, but vampires, especially ones with special abilities, are completely real.

I want to focus on this type of fantasy. The alternate-Earth.

If you're using a real-earth scenario with a reality shift, you HAVE to fact check. Your reader LIVES on Earth, so if you screw up places, culture, time-periods of the REAL Earth aspect of your work, they are GOING TO NOTICE.

Here's some examples:

If your novel takes place in the 1800's, you have A TON of research to do. 

You've picked the WHEN, now you need to pick WHERE your novel is taking place IN that time. 

Then you research. 

Because each country had its own culture, dress, language, mannerisms, etc. Clothing, addressing aristocracy (my lord, baron, your grace, etc), courtship practices (this was NOT called dating ANYWHERE until after the 1900's), language and slang of the time (the term boyfriend was not used until after the 1940's), medicine (penicillin wasn't invented until the early 1900's), certain countries had different names in different periods, some countries weren't even named, made, or discovered yet, depending on the time-period you've set your novel in, some places were at WAR with the other. There's SO many things you can get WRONG by writing in any other time than the present. Even if your alternate reality moves things around a bit, you need to make that VERY CLEAR to your reader. That the normal world doesn't do such and such but WE do, etc. For example: the real-world people are informant to the alternate-world characters so do not see or know the differences. 

You should DEFINITELY NOT HAVE MULTIPLE PERIODS OF TIME WRITTEN IN THE SAME WORLD. And by that I don't mean the story progressing along a period of time as it's written. THAT is fine. I mean using multiple time periods and all that entails, but writing it like it's all happening in the same time. BIG NO NO. Even if your story is great, the reader will not be able to get past such glaring mistakes.

Continuity can also be a problem with point of view switches. I've pointed out the nuances of the different POVs in my post Point Of View - Get It Right - The Way YOU Want It. I have no problem with POV switches, I've used them myself. But the switches have to be VERY CLEAR and at least somewhat consistent. Giving a few paragraphs here and there from a different POV only confuses your reader. Think Game of Thrones. Each chapter is a new POV from a different character's perspective. That is VERY consistent throughout the entire series. 

My Irish Treasures Saga takes place on real-Earth with real circumstances. The reality-shifts are that Celtic mythology is actually real, magic is real, shape shifting is real, etc. But I didn't bend the actual reality of Earth. Any time there's a flashback to a different time period, I researched that period to get languages, clothing, etc. right. I'm not from Ireland and haven't had the chance to visit yet so I had to do endless research on the Irish culture, language, slang, etc to get it right in my novels. The fourth novel in that series spreads the location to Russia. More research for language, historical events, etc. When the story-line shifted with my alternate-reality characters, I explained how they did this without the 'real' world noticing. Here's some examples from the books:

Irish Strength - Book 1 - Chapter 3

"What was all that, Aunt Clare?"
"Magic," Clare answered softly.
"That's ridiculous. There's no such thing." She let the sentence drop, unable to explain what she had actually seen. Clare just smiled knowingly. "Why didn't anyone else see it?"
"People see what they want to," Clare answered with a snort. "Most people are blind to anything that can't be explained with science and reason."
"But I saw it," Morgan answered.
"Aye, child. You did."

Irish Heart - Book 2 - Chapter 10

"I'll get that," Morgan told him, placing a hand on his shoulder.
"No, I've..." Putting up a finger to silence him, Morgan held out her other hand, palm down, over the floor. The slivers of porcelain began to quiver, tinkling against the boards. Dermot gasped as they lifted into the air, circling like a minature cyclone. Morgan turned her palm toward the ceiling as the shards circled around her hand. The pieces began to come together, forming the shape of the cup. The porcelain began to glow as the shards knit together in her palm. The light faded and Dermot stared, mouth open, at the now undamaged cut resting in Morgan's hand.
"You should sit down," she told him as his face paled.
"Aye," he whispered as he lowered himself weakly into the chair. "How did you do that?" His voice came out in a shaky whisper as he struggled to control his breathing.
"The same way that you laced your ax with fire that day at Brigid's," she answered with a shrug. "Magic."
"Then how do you explain it, Dermot?" she asked, sweetly.
"I was hallucinating," he answered, making Morgan snort.
"Brigid saw it, as did Maggie when she looked at Brigid's memory."
"Impossible," Dermot shook his head, denial and excuses swimming through his mind, blurring his vision. 

Irish Sight - Book 3 - Chapter 16

"What is this place?" she asked as he parked. 
"It's called Dún Aonghasa," he answered. "It's said this is the remnants of a fort built in the Iron Age." Maggie paused as they walked toward the structure, her eyes going blank for a second. 
"Its not," she whispered. "At least, that's not all it is. Have you ever been here?"
"Loads of times," he answered, eyeing her with curiosity. 
"Have you not felt it?" she whispered, her face palming. 
"Felt what?" He grabbed her hand, feeling that it was ice cold. "What's the matter, Red?"
"This was Findias." Her voice shook as she spoke. 
"The Golden City?" Breandán looked at the ruins around him and scoffed. "You'd think it would be a wee bit nicer if it was the famed Tuathan City of Light."

So those are only minor examples of an alternate reality on a real-Earth but you get the idea. Continuity, making sure your facts line up with the time period and location you've chosen. All of these are VERY important. 

Now I'll briefly touch on the straight-up fantasy worlds. The great thing about these is you are free to make up ANYTHING you want. But continuity is still important. It's a good idea when writing pure fantasy, to have a map, even a crude one, of the location or world. Have a list of creatures in your world, powers, hierarchies, bloodlines, etc. All the things you have to fact-check in your real-Earth scenarios need to be made up in a fantasy. And you need to be able to look them up when needed to make sure your story-line is lining up with the facts you have made for your world. 

So with those things in mind: Happy Writing! :)