I consider research a vital part of the writing process. While much of my work ties into my own knowledge, I will happily admit, I don’t have firsthand experience with the effects of depressants and ‘club drugs’, and put my time into researching what doses of which combinations guarantee lethal side-effects. So I do my research, reading and talking with people who have the answers. Accuracy is vital. True, this may be fiction, and at times I may drop a building location into what in reality is a vacant lot, but other than that, I check and double-check every detail. If my characters stop at White Castle at 3am, I can assure you, I’ve already checked it is, indeed, open 24hrs. If I state a specific diesel can be disconnected from all electrical power and still run, I already know this engine doesn’t have an electronically regulated fuel pump. You won’t see my characters putting friends in the back seat of their Viper, checking the spark plugs on a diesel, or driving a 78 Fairlane around NJ. I’ve read every one of these and more, some written by big name best-selling authors, and each time I cringe. True, many readers may not notice or realize. When I read a medical or legal thriller, all the inner workings stuff goes right over my head. But I read on, figuring the writer must know what they’re talking about. But when I stumble over some glaring error, it’s distracting and lowers the credibility of everything else on the page.
So, friends, what novel mistakes have made you laugh (or cry)?