Today’s Writing Tip

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One thing that’s important if a novel is going to sound convincing is for the occupations of the character(s) to sound authentic. I remember beta reading a story many years ago where the main character worked as a computer programmer, yet everything about it was inaccurate. I have done some programming before and immediately recognized that the author didn’t have a clue what she was talking about. That definitely did not make the book credible much less impress me with the author’s dedication to accuracy.

Okay, I’m a bit of a break about those things, but it makes a big difference. Assuming your reader won’t know the difference is a BIG MISTAKE. Some of us do, and it will result in a abysmal review and someone who will probably never read another thing you write.

Now that I have my rant out of the way, the point of today’s tip is that every occupation has its own jargon. Use enough in character dialog to sound authentic, but don’t boggle the reader’s mind with too many acronyms. That, of course, is going too far the other way. A few are okay, but even then the reader may appreciate it if you remind them from time to time what they stand for.

Today’s Writing Tip

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When you use actual scientific or historical facts in your story, you can include the source in a bibliography or perhaps individually as footnotes. This is particularly helpful if you’re using your story to make a certain point. This shows that any substantiating data you’ve included is real and may give your story a bit more punch and credibility.

If you do so, you’ll want to include a note to that effect on the copyright page or perhaps a page of its own to alert the readers that the footnotes are real, not a creative device. If done correctly, this can provide an even stronger “what if” to your story’s premise. It you’re trying to make a political statement or bring attention to something, such as a rare disease, or the plight of a certain social group, this is not only a good way to show that you’ve done your homework, but perhaps even gather support, official or otherwise, from those you’re highlighting.

Today’s Writing Tip

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If part of your story takes place in the military, make sure you use rank, terminology, and dialog correctly. For example, a superior officer would not tell an underling to “relax”, he would more likely say, “At ease.” Also remember that military personnel typically address one another by their rank instead of their name. Authenticity adds to the flavor and credibility of your story. Lack of it will throw a knowing reader out of the story and  your fan base.

Today’s Writing Tip

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Writing a crime novel? If you want to gain and maintain reader credibility, be sure to keep police and forensics protocol and procedures authentic. Research as much as required, including talking to experts, to make your scenes and conversations sound real. Accurate details bring a story to life.

Today’s Writing Tip

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Every occupation has its own jargon. Use enough in character dialog to sound authentic, but don’t boggle the reader’s mind with too much technical terminology or acronyms, which should always be defined the first time they’re used. If several pages or chapters separate their next use, remind the reader. This can be easily done via dialog. For example:

“The ARU went out again,” John said.

“That’s the second time this month the auxiliary refrigeration unit has gone on the fritz,” Bill grumbled in reply.