HOW MANY FACTS DOES YOUR READER REALLY WANT TO KNOW?
In the old Dragnet show, Sgt. Joe Friday used to say, "The facts, ma'am, only the facts." But when a writer is creating a book or story part of their process is making sure to check facts,particularly when they are setting out a particular set of circumstances. If you get it wrong, some of your readers will know and possibly spread the word.
The internet is a wonderful source of information, but if you can't find what you want, let your fingers do the walking. Once you've figured out who might have the information you need, pick up the phone and call. It might be a friend, or the public relations division of a police department, hospital, public entity or any number of possibilities. When Morgan St. James was writing "Betrayed," she needed to know what would happen in the late 1950s if an inmate in an Illinois prison was beaten to a point where they had to be on lifesupport. The information was not readily available on the internet, so she called the public relations department at the prison in Illinois and discovered her answer, The Public Relations officer researched her and called back with the information that the policy had changed over the years. What would have happened now, wasn't the caSe then. Back then the inmate would have been kept in the prison infirmary. So, St. James was able to portray the scene correctly for the era.
Okay,let's assume you've got the facts, details and any other pertinent information. How much does your reader REALLY want to know? Are you overwriting and boring them with details fans of your genre really are not interested in?Is the technical information much more than they care to read? Do they want the story to just keep moving?
In a lively discussion authors Morgan St. James, Dennis N. Griffin and Eric James Miller will share their knowledge and experience when it comes to, "Just the facts, ma'am."