Wednesday, August 2, 2017

IWSG: Pet Peeves - A Horse of a Different Color

Today we insecure folk address not our own perceived failings, but look toward the objects of our own annoyances - our pet peeves when reading/writing/editing. I have to look no farther than a multiple NY Times bestseller who in her sexy western historical changed the heroine's horse from a stallion to a gelding, from a roan to a horse of a different color all while galloping the span of two chapters. And then unzipped the hero decades before that convenient access was invented.

Inaccuracy, thy name is my pet peeve!

When I wrote my first published novel back in the mid-'80s, it was a historical in Regency garb, printed by a major New York house (with a 2nd printing, no less). Avenues for research were the local library, and deets were scarce. There were no special interest loops, no blogs devoted to topics, no Google Search. You were on your own to thumb through musty tomes in hopes of catching errors before they reached reader's always discerning eyes. Your one saving grace was that your editor or copy editor would pick up the slack in spotting erroneous gaffs. But I didn't and they didn't, and I was slammed by a nameless judge in my first major contest. Lesson freaking learned. Accuracy matters.

Whether in historicals, paranormals, contemporaries or eroticas, facts is facts, and it's our job as authors to get them right . . . and keep them consistent. Earmark factoids and questions while doing that first draft and look them up before you go on to the next (and news flash: Wikipedia isn't always right). Keep a running log of details involving characters (and horses) for names, colors, etc., of weather conditions, time of day, distance time lines, all those nitpicky details that some OCD reader (not mentioning any names) will immediately spot and not be able to get over.

But it's hard to fix something that's wrong when you don't know something's wrong. Read extensively in your genre/era, not just fiction but non-fiction, too. Search out those unique tidbits of setting and dialogue and fact. Ask someone familiar with the genre to BETA read, and ALWAYS have your work professionally edited before it gets released to sniff out those miraculous (and annoying) changes of sex and hue . . . unless its Sci-Fi/paranormal and could believably happen.

Writing and editing is more than gerunds and Oxford commas. The devil is in the details . . . so get them right.

So what's your on the page pet peeve?

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time.

The awesome co-hosts for the August 2nd posting of the IWSG will be Christine Rains, Dolarah @ Book Lover, Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor, Yvonne Ventresca, and LG Keltner!

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Twitter hashtag is #IWSG


  1. Yes inaccuracies bother me too! Also, when the timeline is totally off, when events do not take place illogically. It was dark, and then it's day, or the weather was cold, now it's hot, etc. I totally agree. Sometimes historical inaccuracies are hard to spot, but even contemporary books have inaccuracies, and there is no excuse when we have information at our finger tips.

    My biggest pet peeve is poorly edited published books. Very irritating.
    Here's my
    ISWG Post

  2. That's why I don't write or edit historical stories. I worry about the accuracy. I don't know enough and would have to do a lot of research. Even then I'd worry my research wasn't right.

    1. Or write paranormals where you create your OWN world!

  3. I have to keep a calendar, esp. for my mystery series. If I didn't, my story would start in mild Fall and end up in Winter before I know it, and the weather would still be mild Fall-ish. Of course, in Michigan that does happen. With sci-fi, I try to do what's logical. If it takes 30 days to get from one place to another, it darn well better take 30 days to get back.

    1. And have them coming back before they actually left!

  4. It is tough when you don't know and can't find it. Much easier now with the Internet. We can find sources and people who do know.

  5. I agree, it's so much easier to check facts these days with the internet, but even then you have to be careful - Wikipedia isn't always right! :) I'm a SF romance writer, but even in Science Fiction there are certain facts that are - well - facts, and you can't change them unless you have a good reason an a rationale (faster than light travel for example. Travelling in a sub-light ship would take centuries to reach its destination and with the crew being necessarily in stasis would be pretty boring for the reader!:)) As for horses, I'm a horse owner and rider, and my pet peeve is girls who always ride stallions. I've ridden some lovely stallions myself, but often they are difficult, very strong and not an easy ride. The exception being war horses, where their fierce courage and domineering spirits was very useful in battle.