Errata-ca: Recent Thoughts on Research, Correction & Continuity

Source: written by Steph
Correction_tape_dispenser copy
wikimedia (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Correction_tape_dispenser.jpg)

Recently, you may have seen me write about and author basing a major point in her novel on what I called a medical impossibility.   The author called me out  and said she had personal experience as well as citing a famous incident. She said she knew the impossibility was actually possible.
I apologized, immediately, and wrote a correction.

A day later a friend who is a nurse and had been a nurse manager in an ICU and worked in a hospice, wrote me asking for specifics. She read the passage, the only reference in the book, and said that I had been correct. I allow that a miracle is always a possibility and I will not insist on my certainty, nor argue with the author.

But in the future perhaps I will express less certainty in my opinion.  Authors are welcome to comment and engage with readers, but before I approve an argumentative comment, apologize and/or retract my opinion I will do more research. I don’t want to get into a pissing contest with anyone, but neither do I want you to think I am a dolt.

In the past, people have asked me what is the importance of facts, research, continuity within the scope of a written world: invented or based on this one.

It seems to me, when a story is based in reality; that is to say our earth, historical or contemporary, it is identifying the rules under which the story operates as the rules of our world, physical, legal and beyond.  It is the same as when a writer of speculative fiction develops the worlds. The continuity of the constructed world gives us a framework on which to suspend disbelief on the rest of it. A story is told within the framework of a constructed world or our world. Without the framework being solid, the construct doesn’t hold.’

Little things don’t bother me too much, unless there are too many of them.  But, pull out to many nails or a major structure, and it creates dissonance, distraction.  And my mind gets stuck in the details.  It just does.

I have other feelings and opinions about historical research and correction.  They’re my own opinions about respect and memory, about spreading misinformation.  Most facts are fairly easy to research these days.  Some perhaps not so easy, however if someone is writing about something so esoteric perhaps they will have researched enough not to make distracting errors.

This is one thing I am going to continue to review on.

I don’t mind saying when I am wrong,  I don’t even mind apologizing.  But, I wish I had taken a moment before I did so last week.