posted on October 24, 2013 by Linda Poitevin

Keeping Fiction Real: Where Do You Draw the Line?

SOTL-coverIf there’s one thing that drives me nuts in movies and television shows, it’s a sloppy portrayal of police procedure. This isn’t helped by being married to a cop who snorts and mutters at every inaccuracy…if I miss something, he’s sure to point it out to me. So believe me when I say that writing about a cop heroine and having my husband as one of my beta readers has led to some “interesting” conversations…but very helpful ones as well.

On the one hand, I want to keep the police procedural aspect as accurate as I can, because who knows when someone with law enforcement connections will read one of my stories? Whether I’m there to witness it or not, I would rather not have my writing sneered at because of its errors. On the other hand, when you toss angels into a storyline, real isn’t always possible. The challenge, then, becomes about balancing reality against literary license.

sinsofthesonInterestingly, it’s the little details that are most likely to draw criticism. A reader might be quite willing to suspend his/her disbelief when it comes to the presence of angels and the reality of heaven and hell, but get your heroine’s gun wrong (cops in Canada use pistols, not revolvers) or have her in the wrong clothes or footwear (a female detective can’t chase down a suspect in a tight skirt or high heels—despite what Hollywood thinks) and you run the risk of having your book pitched across the room. Or at least of losing your reader’s trust.

Sins of the AngelYou don’t need to include mountains of details (the dreaded information dump) to prove that you’ve done your research, either. It’s enough to use the right terms when they’re called for—to know how your heroine would address her supervisor (titles vary between police forces), what kind of cell phone she would use (the secure kind, not an iPhone), that the mobile command post is a retrofitted RV, and so on.

By paying attention to these details in the Grigori Legacy series, I was able to reach a compromise with my husband regarding what was “right”, and to establish a baseline that tells readers I know what I’m talking about. But showing them that they can have faith in me, they’re willing to relax and suspend their disbelief, and to trust what I’m telling them…

Even the angel part. 😉

 

Linda Poitevin

Linda Poitevin

Linda Poitevin was born and raised in B.C., Canada’s westernmost province. Growing up in an era when writing was “a nice hobby, dear, but what are you going to do for a living?”, Linda worked at a variety of secretarial jobs before applying to be a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). Due to an error in measurement, however, she was turned down when she didn’t meet the height requirement of that time. Undeterred, Linda became a civilian member in the force and was a dispatcher for two and a half years, during which time she met her husband, a police officer.

Following their transfer to Ottawa, Linda went on to become a real estate agent and then a human resources consultant before starting a family. She remained a stay-at-home mom, homeschooled her youngest daughter for nine years and, now that she has realized writing can be more than a nice hobby, she continues to live her dream of being a cop vicariously through her characters.

Linda currently lives near Ottawa with her husband, youngest of three daughters, one very large husky/shepherd/Great Dane-cross dog, a cat, two rabbits, and a bearded dragon lizard. When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found in her garden or walking her dog along the river or through the woods.

In addition to her books, Linda also does freelance writing and editing. Linda is a member of Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, Quebec Writers’ Federation, Romance Writers of America, RWA Futuristic Fantasy Paranormal Chapter, and Ottawa Romance Writers’ Association.

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