Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Knowledge in Fiction

IN THE NEWS: According to FOXnews.com, "His parents say he can go by his middle name when he's old enough to decide.
For now, the newborn will be known by his first name: Wrigley. And his last name: Fields.
His parents are Paul and Teri Fields of Michigan City, Ind. They are — no surprise — fans of the Cubs, who have played at Wrigley Field since 1916. The Fields planned the name for years before their son's birth.
Wrigley Alexander Fields was born Sept. 12 at an Indiana hospital."

I think I mentioned in a previous post that I'm reading Noah Lukeman's The First Five Pages.

I think I also mentioned that I'm really enjoying it, too, so I'll just get to the point.

In one of his chapters, he talks about "specificity" in your writing. You know, putting those exacting details in your manuscript that lends authenticity to your writing.

He writes:

"Readers will not only be impressed, but they'll feel as if they're learning something new, be it the name of a bird, bug, or tree they've never heard of before. We must remember that reading is as much about education as it is about entertainment, and even small flourishes can help serve the function and add a whole new dimension to a text."

This struck a chord with me. Yes! I LOVE when I learn something in a fiction book. Uh, but don't get me wrong. I don't read text books for 'fun' (ok, maybe sometimes), but I do enjoy picking up little tidbits of interesting facts when I read.

I remember the first time I read Tess Gerritsen's Gravity. The details in her book were so good, I thought for sure she was an ex astronaut. Then she threw in a little tidbit about astronauts wearing Depends-like diaper garments under their spacesuits and I took that info and ran. Wow. They did? I never thought about it, but it makes total sense. Before I knew it, I was taking that tidbit and using it in small talk conversations at cocktail parties. (SIDE NOTE: it was a hit only 50% of the time. Not everyone is as easily impressed with trivia like that as I am)

It's definitely something I'm going to try to work on--the specific writing, not cocktail party small talk. No, scratch that. I DO need to work on both.

Have you ever learned a fact in a fiction book?


Chicki said...

That's why I LOVE reading Eric Jerome Dickey's books. The one I just finished is about a contract killer that took place in Atlanta, London and Amsterdam. The details he gave about the red light district district in Amsterdam blew me away. Also his description of the coffee houses where people legally smoke marijuana mixed with tobacco while they enjoy the coffee was something I never knew!

Reading Dickey's acknowledgements is always a hoot. He thanks everyone that helped him with the details, and he does it in such a comical way. Love that guy...

Stephanie said...

I think that's an awesome idea! I need to get a book list from you that you recommend for reading on writing. I'm having a hard time lately with inspiration and I can't seem to get things to flow right. Any ideas?

Patricia W. said...

Learning about new things while I read is one of the highlights for me. I always learn about something new when I read Janice Sims' books. Hers stand out for me but I enjoy any author that takes the time to incorporate authentic details. It show that they care about the readers.

Chelle Sandell said...

I enjoy reading certain authors when they really layer in descriptive job details. Not only is it noticeable they put alot of research effort into their story but I always love soaking up new and interesting facts.