Writing Tip of the Week: Check Your Facts

Durango, Colorado

Durango, Colorado

We all make mistakes in our writing, expressly this 82-year-old man.

I’m writing another Western novel just for the heck of it and I mentioned action that had taken place in Durango, Colorado.

That was a big mistake which I have to go in and correct.

The reason is that the action in my story takes place about 1860. A quick look at the history of Durango shows that Durango, Colorado was not there until the late 1880s after Geronimo and the other Indians had been neutralized.

durango Mexico 2Now if I had said Durango, Mexico, I would’ve been okay because it was there in 1563.Durango Mexico

I have published hundreds of scientific papers. There, you’re always dealing with facts. But in fiction writing, your mind goes off here and there and sometimes you make a boo-boo like I did.

When I was a magazine editor, we occasionally made an error in our reporting. It was always very embarrassing to have to make corrections.

You might think that fiction readers don’t check facts. They do and that they don’t have to go to an encyclopedia to do it either. They probably wouldn’t be reading what you are writing if they didn’t know something about it.

So you can have your characters do anything you want anywhere you want but if you are writing in a historical format that you had better have your facts right.

Well, just check on your facts.

John

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