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Writing Books/Question about specifics

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Question
Hi Vincent,
Thank you for taking time out to view my question.

When some-one decides to write a book about a subject in a particular country, do you need to have everything in the country correct?  E.g.  If I write a book of a person who decides to walk around Australia, Do I need to have specifics right?  I.e. correct town name, exactly what's in the town, Names of things prominent in the town etc.

Jay

Answer
If you're writing non-fiction, then YES!

If you're writing fiction, you have more leeway, but always keep in mind that you'll have readers who know the areas you're writing about.  And if you portray those areas erroneously, you damage your credibility with them.  And that's something you definitely want to avoid.

Still, while in this internet age it's easy enough to find out a lot of details, sometimes you can't.  So sometimes, rather than get details WRONG about something REAL, you can make up your own details about something FICTITIOUS.  For example, let's say you're writing a story set in a particular small town that does exist.  You have a particular need for a street with two hardware stores around the corner from each other.  But this town doesn't have that sort of hardware situation.  So what you can do is make up two fictitious streets and put them into that town.  Readers will accept that far easier than they'll accept you getting something wrong about something real.

In your example, of a person walking around Australia, much depends on how much detail you're planning to put in.  But yes, if you're planning to have him/her mosey through downtown Sydney, you'd better be accurate in what you're portraying.

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Vincent M. Wales

Expertise

I am a speculative fiction novelist (fantasy, science fiction, and so on). While I may be able to answer questions on non-fiction, my specialty is fiction. Please keep that in mind when asking questions.

Experience

For four years, I taught a series of fiction writing classes in Sacramento, CA.

Education/Credentials
BA in fiction writing.

Awards and Honors
My 2004 novel, ONE NATION UNDER GOD, won BEST FICTION in Fresh Voices 2006, BEST FICTION and BEST YA FICTION in the NCPA Book Awards, and placed as a finalist in BEST BOOKS 2005. In 2002, my novel WISH YOU WERE HERE won awards for Best Fantasy and Best Fiction/Drama in the 8th Annual SPA Awards. My latest work is a trilogy titled THE MANY DEATHS OF DYNAMISTRESS (a superhero memoir). The first book, RECKONING, was released in 2013 and won the SF category in the 2014 San Francisco Book Festival, took second place in the 2013 Royal Dragonfly Book Awards for the SF/Fantasy/Paranormal category, second place in the SF category of the 2013 Reader Views Reviewers Choice Awards, and was finalist in Foreword's 2013 Book of the Year Awards, Fantasy category. The second book, REDEMPTION, will be released in early 2015 and the final book, RENAISSANCE, is scheduled for release in late 2016.

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