Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A KT Grant Ponder: Is Research Important To You as a Reader?

Are you the type of reader who will mark down a book based on inaccuracies found in something you have read?

I've noticed lately if say, in a contemporary novel, the author has incorrect information about a character's profession (mainly the hero or heroine), book reviewers will call the author on it or give it a lower grade. Or in a historical romance, if events haven't occurred yet, or something hasn't been invented, but yet the event if mentioned or some sort of item  is used at one point, readers will become annoyed.

As an author who writes both contemporary and historical fiction, I'm full aware I have to do some research when writing a book. An example is with my soon to be release from Ravenous Romance called Scandal in the Wind. Scandal takes place in Charleston, South Carolina in 1871. This is a lesbian historical romance where a soon to be divorced Southern belle ends up in a sexual relationship with a Madam of a brothel.

When writing Scandal in the Wind, I had to keep in mind that two women, such as my heroines, couldn't be as public with the affections mainly because of the time and setting. Scenarios where women drink alcohol in public, including something as simple as having a newspaper sent to a house are two things I had to research. Also, the wardrobe for both men and women had to be correct. I even went as far as finding out what flowers and plant life are indigenous to that area.

Details and facts can be very important to some when reading, but in the end it's all subjective.

Are you one of these readers who expect the facts in the book to be correct or do you just shrug and go with the flow?


JenM said...

I think it depends on the reader's level of knowledge about the subject. For example, although I love history, I'm not a history expert so even if I notice the occasional anachronism, it doesn't take me out of the story.

On the other hand, in a previous career, I was a labor and delivery nurse, so anytime I read scenes (or see TV shows or movies) depicting childbirth, they are often so inaccurate that it drives me crazy and completely breaks my immersion in the story. If it's a few minor scenes in a book, I can ignore it, but if the book is centered around a midwife or something like that, I often just won't even read those books unless I know that the author has actual experience in the field.

As an author, I think you just have to do the best you can to be reasonably accurate. You'll never be able to please the experts, but for any given book, that will only be a very small percentage of the potential readership so you shouldn't worry too much about it. I think small bloopers don't bother readers much as long as the general, larger framework is accurate. Even then, I've read plenty of Regency-set farces that were very historically inaccurate, yet were lots of fun to read.

KT Grant said...

When I read historicals, I read more for the situations the hero and heroine find themselves in. If there are mentions of wars or such and such real like people, I let it go rather than look it up to see if it's true.

Dr J said...

I have to admit that the facts of a story are really important to me. I get a little nervous if I read some contextual information and it is about an area of the country or an era of history about which I am familiar, and the facts are really screwy. Then I wonder how much genuine research the author has done. I also find that if I encounter some historical facts that are new to me, I love going online to get some more information or even, (cough, cough) use the local library. Novel concept, eh? So I think research is important to both author and reader. Serious readers will always find research is a part of appreciating good writing.

Blodeuedd said...

I do forgive a lot in HR, I mean honestly they should not even be giving away their virginity that easily, so I can forgive. But if something else really stands out not so much

Cryselle said...

I need to see that the author tried. Sometimes a small inaccuracy to move the story along is okay, but big glaring wrong things bother me a lot. Even things that sound off have made me put a book down and start googling, and if the author was right on, that's cool, and if it's wrong, I'm all *hmmph* when I come back. If I can find out by the five minutes I put into it for being annoyed, the author could have done the same thing. And if it's all pulled out of thin air, I get really ticked.

Anonymous said...

Since romance is, at base, an oft-repeated fantasy, I don't expect the history, the things, or the actions in it to historically sound. It's primary reason-to-be it seems to me is to record a relationship leading to an HEA. Anything else is, after all, beside the point.


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