Why bother to get it right? For your readers, damn it!

I couldn't disagree more with this opinion piece, which you can read here. This children’s book author says, “Must there always be an eye on whether a story is true-to-life? The fabric of a tale has to feel right, I admit. We need to be invited in. But these days we're off the deep end when it comes to fussing about the details in art and forgetting the rest.” He goes on to say, “I worry that the lines between different categories of writing have begun to blur. In response to a new fictional picture book, I received e-mails pointing out that it “wasn't fully researched.””

I agree with the agents or editors who wrote that.

For my books, I’ve done tons of research, and now know a lot about art forgery, TB asylums, murder methods, ELF, and blindness. The research makes the book richer and it also gives readers a two-fer: an engaging story line coupled with some new facts that they can file away about how things work in the world.

Even if we write fiction, I think we have a duty to get it right, at least as right as we can. Sure you can get bogged down in details, and do so much research it overwhelms the book. But I think fiction should not give readers an erroneous impression that they are learning about something, when really the author made it up out of whole cloth.



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I know I'm a schoolmarm, but really.
I'm with you. It's an instant turn-off if a book or movie just didn't care about getting things right. And if what they got wrong is something I identify with strongly, like something about my culture or a disability I have or the work I've devoted my life to? It's like they're saying my reality isn't interesting enough or worth knowing about.

That opinion piece was sloppy-- conflating a desire for accuracy with getting on an author's case for endorsing characters' bad behavior, a completely different issue. And defending inaccuracy by conflating it with fantasy and fictional worlds. Not the same issue. I find it disturbing that the author writes historical nonfiction for kids.
Re: I know I'm a schoolmarm, but really.
You're right that he wandered from topic to topic, while acting as if they were all the same topic.

I would assume he did this as a marketing gimmick, but it seems to be like it would make people not want to buy his books.
I'm with you, too. I particularly disagree with this: "that we think the universe of our books is somehow real?" ...because I do believe that that's what my job *is.* And if I don't see those worlds and characters as real, my readers sure as hell won't, and anything I wanted to say will be lost.
It's especially bothersome since it seems he's written at least one book of historical fiction.
Oh, yes, I so agree! I was going to post on this topic in fact. I probably still will!
Debbie
The thing I've noticed is that fiction often times has to make MORE sense than reality. Otherwise the authors get reamed for it.