How to Use Facts in Your Fiction

Details, details. You need them to make your story believable, but too many can drag your plot to a halt. Here’s how to strike that just-right balance of fact in your fiction.

by Karen Dionne (originally appeared in Writers Digest, January 2010)

Novelists are naturally drawn to write about the subjects that interest them. Doctors pen medical thrillers. Lawyers turn their hands to courtroom dramas. Suburban soccer moms write about—well, suburban soccer moms. Some add to their experiences by arranging to ride along in patrol cars, or taking flying lessons, or traveling to the locations where their novels are set, all in the name of research. Others spend hours combing through resources in libraries and on the Internet.

But just because an author is deeply interested in a topic doesn’t mean her readers will be. You’ve probably read novels in which you skipped over dense paragraphs of exposition or lengthy descriptions to get to the “good stuff.”

What went wrong? And more important, how can you incorporate your own research into your novel without distracting or overwhelming readers? Read the full article at

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