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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Check Your Facts!

Okay, I'm venting here a little. This past week I entered a critique contest which is cool- I'm all about unbiased feedback. That which doesn't kill us, makes us stronger, right?

But one critiquer made a comment that the first 250 words of my novel was set in a tree that never would have been in ancient Egypt.

It's a sycamore. And yes, I fact checked long ago (almost two years ago when I wrote the scene) to make sure that sycamores were in ancient Egypt. They were. In fact, they're the only tree present in ancient Egypt that could be used for much of anything, including a statue going back to the 4th Dynasty. That's 4,500 years ago.

I'm sure this person meant well, but when I'm critiquing something I make sure I know what I'm talking about. If I think someone has broken a major grammar rule, I make sure they're not just breaking a law I made up in my head.

I think the reason I'm so irked about this is because I have meticulously researched this book. I need to let it go and have a piece of flourless chocolate torte. Yes, it's for Valentine's Day, but that's in four hours so I think it counts.

Happy Valentine's Day!


Amalia T. said...

That annoys me too! ALWAYS! My mother second guessed my history once, and I almost bit her head off-- just the assumption that I didn't check my facts drives me crazy! And at this late stage in the game, it seems kind of ludicrous to think you WOULDN'T have done your homework.

..but I guess there are people who haven't?

Steph Damore said...

You're not alone Steph--I'd be irked too. Whenever I'm critiquing and I'm not sure about something, I look it up. Or, I do what my friend Sheri does and put a question mark next to the comment. It's a nice way of saying "I'm not sure if this is right or not, but I wanted to bring it to your attention." It works for us.
Happy Valentine's Day! Chocolate torte sounds yummy...

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Well, that's irritating. Go for the chocolate!

Guinevere said...

That would bug me too! I can't imagine criticizing someone's historical facts without knowing for sure.

Enjoy your chocolate torte!

Katie Ganshert said...

That's definitely one of my pet peeves. You're not alone!

Jemi Fraser said...

Yes - if you're critiquing someone else's work, it's pretty darn important to be careful and correct! Chocolate it is!

Stephanie McGee said...

Her mortuary temple in Deir el-Bahri had sycamores on its tiers, didn't it? That would be very annoying for someone to think you wouldn't have your facts straight.

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

I don't blame ya. I'd feel the same way. People love giving their two cents even if it's with fake pennies. Dig in to the chocolate and try to forget about it.
Happy VDay!

Faith said...

I think sometimes that's the danger of writing in the 'ancient history' realm -- so many people are uninformed about ancient history beyond the basics (not necessarily a bad thing, we can't all be ancient history scholars and I understand that) that when someone with a bone to pick comes across something they don't understand/doesn't jibe with THEIR understanding of ancient history, they'll call you out on it.

Problem is, there are so many gems of knowledge about these time periods that the general public simply doesn't know, such as the flora and fauna of Egypt. I mean, how many people know there used to be lions in Greece? Or that the Minoans had indoor plumbing? I can see how someone might get testy about sycamores in Egypt. It's so very frustrating, and in a case like the critique, what can you really do? Not much, other than fume on your own.

In any case, when you finally get this book published, you can send a lovely note to the critiquer with a clipping from your research that explains trees in ancient Egypt. :D Kind of like a "neener-neener, told you so" but in a nice way... haha.