Choosing Your Topic: Make It True

When you’re choosing what to write, be it a fiction or non-fiction book, short story, magazine article, or any writing, follow one rule.

The rule: know your topic inside and out.

It would seem that a book based on your own life experience would be immune to errors. However, I have seen writers struggle to find the details they need to make a book readable, authentic and interesting.

What do I mean by that?

For one, they should know the facts, especially in a non-fiction work. One would-be author I worked with wanted to write a tell-all book based on a political figure. The author did, indeed, know the person, but the critical details of the incident forming the crux of his sensationalized story were missing. Details such as when, where, who was there, why this appeared to be happening and other background were not documented in any form.

First, that would leave the author open to a very expensive lawsuit.

Second, without authentic events and details, the book would offer no substantiated facts that could prove the author’s case or make the story come alive.

Fiction authors need to be equally sensitive to providing details. Research is important. If a character is alive in the 1800s, for instance, how did he or she get places, what did they wear, what level of education did they possess, how were their homes furnished, what did they do for a living, what was daily life like, etc.?

In other words, research is needed for a writing project so the lack of detail or incorrect details won’t jar or bore the reader.

Make the effort and you’ll be gratified with the richness of your details – and so will your readers!

Note: Science fiction can be entirely fabricated, but the author should create a new world that stays true to its own rules and details. Contradictions to what has been established as “the world” in sci-fi really annoys readers!

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