Sunday, March 30, 2014

Attention to detail IS important

Sort of in preparation for Wednesdays guest post, but also a point that I believe is important, I want to highlight a 'pet hate' of mine.

Firstly, let me explain by using my favourite example (and I understand how petty this may seem to some people but bear with me) :-

Chuck Norris's 1985 film 'Invasion USA'. Ok, hardly a screen blockbuster but it tries to project realism and has invested (probably) millions of dollars in setting the action scenes. Yet here's the hero (Chuck) in a helicopter about to open up with all kinds of whoop-ass on the nasty enemy soldiers down below. He pulls out the 66mm anti tank rocket launcher and fires round after round down on the fleeing bad guys. OK - a couple of real issues with this - The 66mm anti tank rocket launcher that he uses is supplied as a one shot disposable weapon - open it up, aim, squeeze the trigger, off goes the rocket and then the empty launcher is discarded. It's a bit like the old fashioned never ending bullets, you know the ones, the six shooter that kills eleven people without a reload; The Bren Gun from the world war two films that fires continuously until the pesky German aircraft finally falls from the sky - The Bren Gun has a 30 round magazine! But it gets worse; from my own military experience I recall that the 66mm Anti tank launcher has a back blast area of approximately 100 metres, a 25 metre kill zone, with a 60 degree arc. The gases that ignite to propel the rocket forward shoot out the back reaching temperatures of up to 760 degrees C - ANYTHING within 25 metres behind that thing when Chuck squeezes the trigger is going to get fried, and yet here is Chuck squeezing off round after round from inside a helicopter being cheered on from his wounded comrades behind him - not even a sun tan!

I absolutely accept that most people probably wouldn't pick up on this, but I did, and I'll bet I'm not the only one. 

When I wrote Russian Redemption I actually hadn't been to the Kremlin and nor was I around during that period in time so I had no personal experience to draw upon. In order to give my novel any degree of credibility I had to do a lot of research. It's not about pleasing everybody because that just is not possible, but I wanted to make it as realistic as possible so that my readers got the sense of what it was like. I suppose my best guess would be that 95% of people that read my book hadn't been to Moscow, or weren't around during that period, but at the same time that would mean that 5% WERE! So as not to reduce my potential market I had to go that extra mile, I didn't want to preclude 5% of my potential base.

Names are another area where a lot of authors get it wrong. If you've invested all that time building a credible story I don't understand why an author wouldn't invest an extra few minutes on a Google search to check the finer details.

I don't believe a novel set in 1940 Russia, would be construed as anything like authentic IF my main characters were called Simon or Ross or Jeremy or Kylie or Samantha. A few minutes on google search - popular names 1940 Russia and I have a whole list to choose from, it's that simple. 

I'm working on the premise that, despite my best efforts, there will be something that I've overlooked but the more of these boxes that I can tick then the bigger my potential reader base.

OK - all of the above aside - I happened across a lady named Margaret Chisawn - a reader, writer and reviewer. Margaret has agreed to provide a guest post around her views and thoughts on reviewing and what she would expect as a reader. If you get the chance to have a look at some of Margarets reviews before her post I would truly recommend it. One of the things that stand out the most for me is the passion with which she writes her reviews, it is an absolutely eye opener. And she certainly knows her stuff, considerably better than some of the authors of the books she has reviewed. We'll talk more about her style once you've had the opportunity to read her post.


1 comment:

  1. Details - the devil is in the details:

    Nicholas Sparks - Message in a Bottle - what sailor in his right mind would take OFF his life jacket before jumping in to save a drowning person? No wonder he never came back.

    My wife, the only horse she ever rode was the one on a merry-go-round, wrote a book about the Rodeo in Alberta, Canada. How? Months of research, interviews, travel and she "nailed it". Oh ya, and proof reading by actual rodeo riders :)