Wednesday, April 9, 2014

How Much Research?

By Bethany Maines

So I was reading a book, which shall remain titleless to protect the guilty, and the heroine tucked her revolver into the simple elastic garter she was wearing under wedding dress, and I thought, “Well, that’s the last straw.” I didn’t finish the book because I just couldn’t handle the startling number inaccuracies that were in the first three chapters. I realize that as a karate practioner and the sister of a certified gun enthusiast that my opportunities for action scene research are rather broader than the average writers, but the fact that this writer couldn’t even be bothered to test the weight limits of an average wedding garter really bothered me.  The distance between research and creative license is always a fine one.  Researching until you can write an expert level on a subject results in Michael Crichton style tomes.  And I don’t know about you, but when I got to the “expert” section of those books, I just skipped to the end.  It’s my belief that there’s a level of detail that most readers don’t care about. Not all readers of course; I’m sure there are a great many people that really care about absolute accuracies of certain topics.  But in general, I think most readers just want a tale well told with the fewest obvious blunders.  What do you think? What level of research and accuracy is required from an author?

Bethany Maines is the author of the Carrie Mae Mystery series and Tales from the City of Destiny. You can also view the Carrie Mae youtube video or catch up with her on Twitter and Facebook.


  1. My first question wasn't even the one you had--I wondered about the time frame of the novel and if there even was "elastic" at the time--LOL! It's always the little things that bug us as readers, isn't it? Good post!

    1. Ha! It was modern, so there was indeed elastic. But yeesh, anyone who's ever felt one of those wedding garters knows they can barely keep themselves up, let alone a fun. I just couldn't suspend my disbelief any longer!

    2. Auto correct hates me. Not fun. GUN.

  2. well as a gun enthusiast and an avid reader and researcher, I will say. If you claimed in your book that a woman hid her colt in her garter.. would at the very least disappoint me and make me pause while reading. As this is not likely. That gun is too heavy and too big. However, a 22 derringer could plausibly be tucked away under petticoats held in place by a garter. I would respect the effort of getting it right rather than winging it. Just My thoughts on the topic.