Friday, October 29, 2010

Accuracy: Does Fiction Need It?

I'm struggling with one simple little problem at this current stage in my edits. This is where I'm combing through, looking for stylistic and voice problems, but I'm also looking for... accuracy.

Dum, dum, duuuum!

Yeah, it's scary. I mean, it's fiction. By definition it isn't gospel truth. But in contemporary YA, it should reflect the real world, for the most part, as it is. My novel, FAKE, takes place somewhere I have never been to. The character's family is of a religion I do not belong to. And while I know enough about both the location and the religion to write pretty confidently and truthfully, I do not know certain, very specific details.

Google is my friend.

But where does "research" cross a line into utter time-wasting distraction? Is it really vitally important that every speck of the story be grounded in absolute truth, or is it okay to take a few liberties? I'm obviously trying to depict the religion as sensitively as possible, and I'm trying not to cast it in a totally negative light (there's a lot about this religion I respect), but when the story is about religion-gone-wrong, is it okay to write it the way it needs to be written? Should I really worry about offending an entire group of people? Do I care whether or not the book is banned?

My heart tells me no, I shouldn't worry about offending people, and no, I shouldn't give a damn if they want to ban it. But my head tells me it's a valid worry and to get all the facts right that I can.

What do you think? Does anybody else write about controversial topics and worry about censorship, or just plain getting stuff wrong?

1 comment:

  1. Personally I think it's better do as much research as you're pleased with, then just write the damn story. I also think it's much better to write the story more for yourself than anybody out there. Back in the days I was so desperate to write a novel that would please everybody that I made it generic and boring and I HATED writing it.
    I can get you're afraid of offending people by using incorrecy facts, but when it goes through the whole publication process I'm pretty sure if it's THAT mistaken it'll probably be solved.
    But then again, that might be me being overly optimistic.
    Though it might help knowing that Dan Brown offended thousands of religious people with his record-shattering The Da Vinci Code by using 'facts' that outraged them...