J is for Jesus’s abs #atozchallenge

Day J of the 2013 Blogging from A to Z April challenge. Today’s topic: Jesus’s abs.

A few weeks ago, I came home to this picture on a brochure for a local religious group. This guy is what is commonly referred to as “White Jesus.” It’s a well-known fact that since Jesus was a Jewish carpenter from the Middle East, he would most likely not have brown hair, pale skin, or blue eyes (you can’t see his eyes in this picture but I’m sure they’re blue). But that hasn’t stopped generations of WASPs from portraying him this way, or ignorant Americans from declaring that the Bible should be read in its original English.

Similarly, I’m pulled out of many stories I read when the author gets details wrong. Little things, that could easily be checked. For example, one story I’m beta-reading is set in Michigan, and the plow comes by and plows everyone’s sidewalks and driveways.  Yeah, I wish that was how it worked! Another story has characters stargazing in mid-summer, and they see Orion in the night sky, even though he’s a winter constellation.

It might be big things, too. Like using English terminology for a story set in Seattle. Anachronistic things in historical stories, like inventions 50 years before they were invented.

In my own stories, I try to fact-check as much as possible. For example, I recently wrote a story about guys in a small rock band. One thing my beta-readers were quick to point out was that the guys would load their own equipment, not roadies. And in a story involving a scene set in Iraq, I asked several people who’d been there to fact-check it. They pointed out terminology and protocols that would be fine to a civilian, but stuck out to military personnel.

When you read a story and come across wrong details, what’s your reaction?

And as a writer, how much effort do you put into fact-checking your own stories?


  1. Hello there

    I’m so glad I found your blog. I agree with you on the fact checking. I’m writing a fantasy and I fact check all the time. For instance, I have a section where people suffer from hypothermia – I’ve checked the symptoms thoroughly. Even in a fantasy, details need to be correct. 🙂

    My biggest bugbear when reading anything is bad grammar and incorrect spelling. No matter how much I like the author, I won’t be able to continue reading if there are glaring mistakes.

  2. This is the one thing I am terrified about with my novel. I wrote a 20th-century historical, and I looked up facts about EVERYTHING. Did grocery stores in the early 1960s have automatic doors? Did they sell bananas? Was beef wellington a dish they would have eaten? I mean seriously, everything. So I’m a bit worried that I’ve missed something.

    Even if I have, I know for a fact that automatic doors DID exist in the early ’60s because I read far too much background detail on it. 😀

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