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?