Are you a stickler for detail? Does incorrect information pull you out of a story? I know some readers who are real nit-pickers but I usually don’t allow myself to get bogged down by minor details when I’m devouring a novel. Recently though I’ve noticed a few glitches that really threw me off my reading game. They got stuck in my brain and replayed over the course of the story. Drove me crazy!
I recently caught the airing of a new holiday movie — The Nine Lives of Christmas. It was right up my alley. Fire fighter hero (need I say more?) Frisky ginger cat with a mind of his own. I do so love a good animal story! What’s not to love? Well there was one scene…
It’s Christmas time (obviously) and, baby, it’s cold outside. The hero and heroine head out on an impromptu date. She’s in a slinky black mini dress and high heels. He’s in shirt sleeves. They decide to get dinner at a food truck and eat outside at a picnic table. In December. In the cold. Everyone around them is bundled up — coats, mitts, hats and scarves. It’s obviously freezing outside but these two are flirting and bantering practically in their skivvies! The incongruity of it all bugged me for the rest of the movie. Talk about distracting! Why didn’t anyone catch this rather obvious detail? Writers, actors, director? Somebody must have noticed how odd it was.
I recently read my first Baxter Family book (Karen Kingsbury.) A Baxter Family Christmas is #24 in a long line of books in the series. Phew! There’s no way I could catch up but the author did a great job of creating a memorable story that had just as much meaning for the new-to-the-Baxters readers as life long fans. Loved the story — the way faith and family are shouted from the rooftop! The sweet, goosebumpy Christmas message. So off I went to post my review only to discover some 1 and 2 star reviews. Seriously? Who could rate such a heartwarming story so low? Die-hard fans, that’s who. Readers who knew the Baxter family, including the ages of the parents, kids and grandkids and apparently, those ages didn’t add up in this Christmas story and they weren’t happy. On the one hand — how awesome is it to have people so emotionally invested in your characters? On the other hand — how scary is it to have people so emotionally invested in your characters? A writer would definitely have to be detail-oriented to keep on top of things.
Isn’t it funny how the little details have the power to stall a reader’s karma? Like when a cover doesn’t match the story. Now that can send me into a tailspin. I just finished reading a romantic suspense where the heroine was described as having close-cropped hair that framed her face but on the cover image she’s sporting a long swishy ponytail. Seriously?
And take a look at this cover for Shelley Shepard Gray’s A Sister’s Wish. If you are an Amish fiction fan you will notice a major faux pas in this image. The hero is sporting a very un-Amish haircut. And if that isn’t enough, this bachelor has a beard and a mustache! (insert indignant gasp here.) Amish men don’t grow a beard until they are married and no Amish male has a mustache. Period.
So how did the art team get this so terribly wrong? I have no idea — other than maybe they surmised by the back blurb that Simon, who had lived among the Englisch for some years, had just recently returned to Charm. However, he’s been back for quite a while, living Amish but never married. So the whole hair/beard thing is wrong on so many levels. There is a very minor character — a teen named Justin described as having “hair practically shaved off”- and I wonder if someone caught that description early on in the book and just assumed it was the hero? I can’t tell you how distracting that cover was for me as I read the book. And obviously it still does since I’m mentioning it here.
So — if you are a writer — how do you keep track of details? Is it a struggle or are you just naturally detail-oriented? And if you’re a reader — do mixed-up details bother you or do you just go with the flow?