Writing Literacy Take 2

As promised. Debunking what I said a couple of blogs ago.

Fiction Facts

The not so great thing about fiction facts is that 1. you shouldn’t use Wiki and 2. you need to understand any facts you read and 3. different perspectives on a theory actually won’t help.

Don’t use Wiki

It’s pretty standard that for academic research that you shouldn’t use Wiki for references. You can certainly use it for ideas of where to go next. But in terms of fiction, can Wiki really provide what you need? It certainly can as long as you realise it has been compiled by fact-loving-humanoids who disregard peer-review replacing it with peer-public. But seriously, I want to say Wiki content can be just as confusing for those who struggle with cold hard facts – science, maths, most of biology, physics etc. Therefore, the truth is that Wiki content is not necessarily for ‘dummies’. Even the Dummy range of books isn’t for dummies. Seriously? Who are they kidding? I’m not one to destroy your hopes and dreams of Wiki-Topia or Dum-Politon so here’s the solution:-

What you really need to do is access all the websites for kids.

Websites designed for the young and young at heart. The more pictures and videos and interactive graphics, the better. I have many books at home for children and teens. They are awesomely easy to watch, listen and play with if not necessarily understandable either. But, you have more fun and that’s key in the world of writing.

I dare you to refute this.

Of course, the best advice to give you to end this tirade is ‘don’t overload your readers with boring old facts’ – that’s great news ‘ey?

Understand your facts

Right, where to go with this one now that I’ve just gone and said go to NASA for Kids and count with Count Dracula on Sesame Street. I know…

When you have facts, understandable or not, do keep in mind too much will kill the pace of your story. You have to understand enough – when to use facts, how to use them, and where to use them. I seem to remember Star Gate, where Samantha Carter would begin spurting out facts, and Jack O’Neill would interrupt her. A mechanism to be sure to prevent the audience from falling asleep but enough for those to think ‘it’s intelligent’ and ‘it’s intelligent writing’. Of course, what do I know? Sam might have been spurting out recipes.

Your aim should be to make your character ‘knowledgeable’ but not ‘all knowing’ or a ‘smart-arse’ (and even if that’s what they are (thinking of Yoda, Sam, Holmes, Spock, The Brain, House, Baltar, Lisa S., Sheldon, Walter W., Data and so on.) then tone it down).

Balance these:  How much is enough? How much is not enough?

Example.

Can a sci-fi story with space ships have no explanation for space-time and travel? Or gravity? Or acceleration etc. etc.? They can have these but should a writer then include the fuel recipe, or laws of alien physics complete with schematics, or data about the hypercubey thing ‘tesseract’.

Can Dracula have no knowledge of what’s good blood and what is diseased blood (does he care?). He can but should a writer have the Count or Countess take blood samples first, carefully analysing the blood and documenting the entire process to ensure she/he can avoid that entire bloodline?

Well, I think you get the picture. Finally,

Don’t read up on weird-ism stuff

Don’t read up on weird stuff.

Unless your character is weird. Or it’s cute – like a dog on a skate board (by damedeeso)

You don’t want your audience to fall asleep.

© Can Stock Photo / ekavid

Atomic Hughes

Here one moment, gone for goodness knows how long.

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