Writing a novel is exciting. Your imagination helps you to build an entire world, into which you take your readers. For a few hours, you allow your readers to escape their daily lives. Their heartbreaks, stress and boredom drop away. You’re giving them a gift.
Be careful: don’t snatch away that gift, and jolt your readers awake. It’s easily done.
Last week I was reading an historical novel. I loved the world of the novel, and surrendered to it.
Suddenly I couldn’t believe what I was reading. The hero helped the heroine onto her horse, and she kicked it in the withers to get it moving. Withers?! What on earth was she, a contortionist? The withers are just above the shoulders on a horse, they’re the highest part of the back. I would have loved to have seen anyone, in a sidesaddle no less, kick a horse in the withers…
A little grumpy, I went back to reading. She kicked the horse in the withers again. AND she called her horse’s fetlock something else, I forget what.
At that stage, I removed the novel from the Kindle app on my iPad. My fictional dream was destroyed, by a careless author.
How challenging would it have been to look up the parts of a horse on Wikipedia?
When you’re writing your novel, you WILL make mistakes.
It’s impossible to write the “perfect” novel, and never make mistakes. You will make mistakes in every novel you write. However, those mistakes shouldn’t be egregious. If something’s easy to look up — details of crime scene procedures, Regency-period forms of address — look them up.
The fear of making mistakes shouldn’t stop you writing. You WILL make mistakes. That’s fine. Just do your best to correct mistakes. ASK questions. Check your facts. For aficionados of a genre, an author’s mistakes, especially if they show the author’s been lazy, show disrespect for readers.
No one’s perfect. Have fun writing your novel. When you’re writing, focus on it completely, and let yourself go. However, at some stage before publication, check facts carefully. You owe it to your readers, and they’ll love you for taking them away from their woes for a few hours.