Not Everything Can Be Made Up When Writing Fiction

Writing fiction can be extraordinary fun. You get to create worlds, explore myths and dabble with creation. You can write about a Stratabear (completely made up) living on a cloud drinking raindrops while sprinkling rays of sunshine on unsuspecting guests. You can make this rare bear have a super long tail, cat like whiskers and tye-dyed eyes.

Yes, fiction can be fun but it is important to remember not everything should be made up if you want to be taken seriously as a writer. If you are writing about how the Stratabear only comes off of the cloud to feed his honeysuckle sucking habit, you cannot say that his favorite month to suck the sweet flower is December. Why not? Because, Honeysuckle does not grow in December. (If you want it to be December, you must come up with an explanation of why it is growing in December so if the reader questions this you have an answer ready)

You can have the most imaginative piece of work but if the facts are wrong, your highly fantastical tale may get dismissed.

When I began writing fiction, I thought every thing could be made up and nothing had to be checked. Thanks to several writing courses I learned that lack of research is a quick way to get your work dismissed.

Below is a list of things to think about when creating fiction.

• If you are writing a period piece, familiarize yourself with the era. Eg. What names were popular? What style of clothing was worn? What was going on in the world?
• If you mention a plant or flower make sure you are in the right month. (See above, Honeysuckle does not grow in December)
• If you mention a real town, make sure you know facts about that town such as the weather patterns, schools, landmarks etc.
• If you mention a famous piece of literature make sure you have read it and know who wrote it. (Imagine saying something like Stephanie loved Romeo and Juliet, it was one of her favorite stories by Hemingway) Something like this might get your manuscript tossed into a paper shredder
• If you are writing about a character with a specific occupation, be sure you know what that occupation entails.
• If you are writing about natural disasters, make sure you are in the right State. E.g. Pennsylvania is not known for large Earthquakes. It doesn’t mean that PA can never have an earthquake, but it does mean that the characters won’t be complaining that they are sick of living in PA because of the Earthquakes (Unless of course you make up a futuristic story that explains why all of the sudden PA suffers from frequent quakes).

I can go on and on but I think the point has been made. Writing fiction does not mean that you never have to research. Get your facts straight. Don’t jeopardize your career because you didn’t feel like doing the legwork.

Are you a fiction writer? What do you love about writing fiction?

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7 Comments

Filed under audience, books, character, character building, constructing, creating, dreaming, editing, Fiction, Inspirational, life, meme, middle grade fiction, novel, random, routine, stories, story telling, story writing, Style, Voice, writer's life, writers, writing, Writing, Young Adult

7 responses to “Not Everything Can Be Made Up When Writing Fiction

  1. I read your paragraph for the contest on Nathan Bransford’s blog. Yours is one of my faves! Good luck!

    • Maribeth

      Wow, Ashley you certainly made my day. I truly appreciate that, thanks so much. Thanks also for stopping by my blog. Have a great day!

  2. Yes! Yes! And Yes! Great post and reminder to all fiction writers. I began writing a piece with a dectective as my main character…but soon realized I don’t know the first thing about being a detective. I have know idea what the protocol is or anything. So I set the story aside in order to research more about not only detectives, but police departments and sheriffs departments.

    • Maribeth

      Hi Elisa, at first research can seem daunting, but I have learned to enjoy the whole process. I always walk away with a feeling of satisfaction. Knowledge is liberating isn’t it?

  3. Your post for today appears in many retweets and led me to your site. I enjoy writing murder mysteries (still unpublished, but working on that) and one of my favorite tasks is the research!
    I am including your post in my Facebook Community page. I don’t have many followers yet but am working on that also!
    Gail Baugniet, Writer

    • Maribeth

      Hi Gail, thank you for visiting my blog. I am all smiles today, thanks to new and old visitors.
      I love murder mystery books. I agree about loving the research. In the beginning my nose scrunched a little and my lip pouted, but instantly I was pleasantly surprised by how enjoyable I found the research.
      I am so flattered that you are including me on your Facebook page. I’m sure you will have many followers in no time.

      Thanks again for stopping by. Good Luck with your writing.

      :):):):) Maribeth :):):)

  4. I erupt into bursts of research while I’m writing so that there are no inconsistencies. If I’m still unsure or can’t find information, I’ll be vague if I can get away with it.

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