Sunday, January 29, 2012

Fact Or Fiction?

I've been doing some thinking lately and it brought about a question: When you are a fiction writer, how literal do you take the facts?

When I sat down to write my first MS, I researched every aspect (which I'm sure most writers do, and if you don't, you should). I have Irish characters in my story, and they use Irish Gaelic words here and there. So, my first stop was to translate some words I wanted to use. I decided to find a good site, with Irish people, who would have first hand knowledge. After looking around, I found an amazing site with wonderful people who entertained my questions that ended up going way past translations.

My first question brought on many more. And each time,  I gained more knowledge about what really happens in Ireland vs what Google/Bing/etc said happens in Ireland. The people who responded to my inquires where so helpful, even when I asked a question they had no answer for. There were times that something I wanted to know was too far fetched, and in those instances-they flat out told me. The best answer I got was when I asked about checking into a hotel at a certain time-what would a room service order be?

The answer I ended up with, had nothing to do with room service. People kept trying to explain why the person coming from America would get to Ireland much earlier than the time I was saying, and also where they would stop and what not. That wasn't really the main answer that was the best, it was a response to the answer....If your characters are vampires they can arrive whenever they want. Yes, they can. And more importantly, they are fictional characters so they can do whatever they want.

My wonderful critique group over at the fantastic site I can never mention enough-Agent Query Connect, brought this to my attention once again. I really do appreciate my group, and the women who are a part of it are fantastic. Something funny they brought up though was this. Someone in my book, who is from 1344, says kilogram, even though kg wasn't used yet. But they haven't mentioned  the fact that same person is performing blood transfusions (Sidenote for any who don't know: The first blood transfusion was conducted in approx 1492-it failed horribly. But a transfusion in 1840 was the first completely successful one.) It doesn't matter though, none of it. I wrote a story about vampires, so, do the other facts really matter that much? I know some of it needs to be accurate in a sense, but let's be for's fiction, so everything can't be fact.

What do you think? How literal do you take the facts when you're writing fiction? How much research do you do to make sure you are as factual as you can be?

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