Getting it Right

Did you ever see a beautiful painting of a ship with white sails billowing, the prow slicing through the waves, colorful banners fluttering behind? I’ve seen some beautiful paintings like that. Of course, those paintings are absurdly wrong, and that irritates me. A sailing ship is wind-driven. That means the banners and flags are blown in the same general direction the ship is moving and the sails are billowing—not streaming along behind the ship. A wind-driven vessel can not move faster than the wind. A painting like this, however well otherwise done, shows the painter does not know his subject.

The same is true with writing. While it is perfectly all right for your old-west character to have tuberculosis, it is not okay to say the x-rays showed it. Swords must be of the proper type and constructed of the proper metals for the time-frame in the story. A character who has been the victim of a poison dart or a specific  medical malady must experience the proper symptoms and must die the correct way.

These details can add immeasurably to your writing or detract from it, depending on whether you get them right. No one can be an expert in every area. Doing some research is important. There are a lot of writers out there with niche expertise that can be very beneficial in this regard. We want to help connect those niche experts with authors who may need to borrow some of that expertise to render a better story.

Indies Unlimited will be starting a new guest post feature titled, “Getting it Right.” The purpose of these particular features will be to discuss the need for correct details in certain elements or genres of fiction.

So, I will be looking for guests with special expertise to write informative articles about:

Horses/horseback riding/ tack and equipment

Health/medicine/disease signs and symptomology

Guns/weaponry (military and other – from ancient to modern)


Lawyers/court procedure

Law enforcement/police & investigative procedure/evidence collection/handling/preservation


If you have such an area of expertise and would like to write a guest post for Indies Unlimited about it, please contact us. Likewise, if there is a subject area you’d like to see covered, let us know.


Author: Administrators

All Indies Unlimited staff members, including the admins, are volunteers who work for free. If you enjoy what you read here - all for free - please share with your friends, like us on Facebook and Twitter, and if you don't know how to thank us for all this great, free content - feel free to make a donation! Thanks for being here.

23 thoughts on “Getting it Right”

  1. Ships do not necessarily sail along the wind. They can do it sometimes quite against the wind, if a skillful sailor is on board. So one can find that speed of wind and direction of wind cannot compare with speed of ship and direction of ship. Disregarding other factors, like sea currents or river flow.

    1. A flags and banners of a sailing ship must move according to the wind, not the speed of the boat. If the sails are billowing forward, the banners must point forward. A ship with sails set cannot move into the wind – it would be taken aback. For a tacking maneuver, the sails have to be strategically and masterfully reefed and hauled. If this is not done right the ship will fall off with the wind.

  2. Oh I so agree with you here Stephen! Ever see the movie Miami Vice? The whole premise of the movie is that the Cartel wanted to outsource their drug transport. This does't happen. Trust me. When somebody gets some basic concept of how the world works wrong it make me want to puke in my spaghetti-o's.

  3. This is great stuff, especially for authors who write faction, like I do. Having a network of experts is a must — this is a great way to take the pain out of searching for those people.

  4. When my cover designer and I were brainstorming, we both felt that a night sky lit with stars would be appropriate as a background, behind Joan of Arc.

    He added a crescent moon, but I immediately sensed that there was something very wrong with its position, as it hung directly over her head, like an arch. Upon further investigation, I discovered that in fact, we never will see the moon's crescent hanging upside down, like that; it's scientifically impossible. I love the Internet for this reason. Instant answers to nearly every question.

  5. True. You have to get the facts straight. If not someone will read it and challenge you. The things I had to research for my books were food and herbs. What grew so long ago in a temperate climate? What herbs would be used for what purpose eg. raspberry leaf tea for pregnancy? Even in a Fantasy we must not stretch the credulity of our readers.

  6. I spend sleepless nights worrying about whether fast zombies are somehow intrinsically wrong, so yeah, I can get behind this concept. I love movie mistakes, though. In the '60s, there was a movie titled "Krakatoa: East of Java" about the volcano of the same name. Only problems was—and this was pointed out by thousands of movie fans—Krakatoa is *west* of Java. LOL.

  7. Good stuff Senor Hise. I am a master of deception. Call on me if you must. But I will lie about my whereabouts and delude you into thinking I can help you when I can't. Same applies to your minions. I am a liar of the highest order, but I do try to keep them (the lies) orderly.

  8. Email sent! My hubby and I can help out in the first 3 categories. We own 3 horses, I've been riding/training for 20 years. We're both retired Air Force medical, and he has extensive knowledge of firearms. Yeah, I'm open to help out.

  9. Wow, I don't think I've ever seen a post like this. This is the essence of what makes writing novels great. We really want to get things right.

    Recently, for my sequel novel, I've got some cutting edge science that I wanted to make sure that I had right. So what did I do? I contacted the #1 expert in the world on the subject and guess what… he obliged and provided me with all the answers to my questions to make the science accurate AND, said if I need any other help in the future, don't hesitate to ask. Here's a possibly future Nobel Prize winning scientist taking time to help me make my next Young Adult novel accurate.

    Sometimes, all you have to do is ask, and Stephen, that's exactly what you've done.

    1. Jim, it's so funny that you say that! I needed to choreograph a martial arts scene for my last novel, so I contacted one of the top experts in the world on Kenpo who happens to live in Spokane – merely asking him if he could recommend a student of his to help me. Instead, he told me to come on down to Spokane, and we spent hours together – he would beat me up, then we'd take a break so I could write my notes. It was truly awesome. There are so many really good people out there, and like you said – we just have to ask!

      1. Kat, You crack me up! "He would beat me up … there are so many really good people out there!" Lol

        I had to do all kinds of research for my novel. All the wine pairs with the food, the art and furniture is correct.

        I consulted the famous sex therapist, Doctor Amos to verify that all human social interaction was properly described. He is a consummate professional.

    2. That is just outstanding, Jim. I hope Indies Unlimited can provide a sort of nexus between the resource and the need. It is all out there somewhere.

Comments are closed.