Saturday, January 2, 2010

Checking the Details

I generally like to revise.* In fact, I've done so much revising in the past year and a half that I've basically forgotten how to draft without stopping every sentence and tweaking something. (For the record, I hate the word "tweak" and it really bothers me that it was the first word to pop in my head. I'd like to go back and change it now, but That would make this parenthetical pointless (not to mention really confusing) and although parentheticals are usually extraneous, they're also fun, so in spite of my strong urge to go up there and revise that sentence, "tweak" is staying.)

Today was dedicated to one of my favorite kinds of revising, fact-checking. I'm basically ready to send off the manuscript, but one of the last things I do (before rereading the whole thing and finding more things to do) is double-check all those tiny details that probably don't matter all that much but that might signify to an agent or reader that the author didn't cross his x's and dot his j's.

So here's the list of things I googled today:

  • Otter Pops--Do they still exist? (They do. And thank God.)
  • Handheld game consoles for teens (The itouch would be the most realistic, but my character isn't allowed a cell phone, so I went with the PSP even though it's a little old school.)
  • Image search: 2003 Nissan Sentra dash (I was trying to determine if they have SEEK buttons or just SCAN buttons on the radio. The images weren't detailed enough.)
  • Shock Wave soda (Doesn't exist, except in my manuscript.)
  • Ho Hos (Come in boxes of 10. Not sure why I didn't know this.)
  • Schwarzenegger spelling (I had it right. Just sayin'.)
I also revised my timeline based on what I found using Mapquest. I just sort of winged it when I wrote the story with the thinking that much later in the process I would fix it up. So that's what I did. Here's something fun I discovered:

U.S. Naval Observatory Sunrise/Sunset

It's what you think it is. You give it the year, city, and state, and it gives you a table that shows the sunrise and sunset times for every day of the year. Very Handy** for the anal retentive.

* It should be stated that I draw a distinction between revision that I think I should do and revision that others want me to do. The former is far more enjoyable than the latter.

**I've started something new for the new year. In Every post there will appear randomly capitalized words. I do this to annoy.


Anita said...

I bet looking for that Nissan dash was fun. And I hope your characters weren't relying solely on Mapquest...I seem to recall you and The Wife arriving late for a concert because of a MQ quirk.

I hope you have a Productive rest of your vacation.

Sharon Mayhew said...

Very good post. Great fact check information and ideas. Best wishes with the manuscript!

Tina Lee said...

I think that drafting and revising use such different parts of the brain that it is way too easy to get out of practice. I agree, revising is fun, as long as you only have to tinker with the parts you want to. The rest... a little scary.

MG Higgins said...

Good for you for checking your facts! I try to do the same (like the correct spelling of Capn' Crunch--I don't think that's right, BTW). If agents are grading your ms on a scale of 1-100, I think accurate facts should count for 5 points. At least.

Tracy Edward Wymer said...

You are, indeed, anal. Though your searches are fairly obscure, I do agree that a bum fact or mishap can stick out. What if the agent drives a Nissan?

Kelly said...

Fact checking is importante. In my latest WIP I had to change the band name. Luckily I googled it and it really was a band (I thought I had made up a cool band name). So I used the thesaurus for another name for it and used that instead.

Paul Michael Murphy said...

Muy, Kelly. Muy importante.