Blue Hole, Little Miami River,
o/c, 1851, Cincinnati Art Museum.
I stole the title of Suzanne's latest release for this post.
While cruising yesterday came upon a link from Virgina Lady about the middle-class reality failure of some writers of urban fantasy et ux when describing the mean streets and street life -- particularly in regards to such items as weapons and money. As the author of the two-part essay came to realize, the applications are broader than the original target genre and suitable for extrapolation. The essays are well worth a close read no matter what you write, especially in connection with character/environment reactions.
As a significant example, a survival character from the streets -- even when off them -- will automatically examine any setting for exits. Incidentally, this applies to certain other occupations/training/experience as well.
For the writer, there's a dirty little sub-text to all this: how much reality/accuracy is necessary to satisfy those reflexive wall-bangers with in-depth experience in certain milieux and cultures; and how does the writer avoid distracting/disturbing those readers content with superficial interpretation and often inaccurate generalizations. Readers, who, I might add, may be focused more on character or excitement/adventure, ie. the story, rather than critical details and who may gloss over/ignore/don't care whether champagne flutes were in use in 1760.
I know I've blogged about this before. The prime solution, it seems, is to get the flavour right -- even if the details are subject to indignation from those quarters who forget that not all courts/PF's/laboratories or any other societal group operate exactly and uniformly the same.
It's our job to create characters and societies so realistic that any deviations can be accepted and dismissed by the specialists. Sometimes that means making a point of noting our particular deviation. To apply this in broad terms, it's a rare male who doesn't register a car make -- particularly one he is driving.
As always, the writer is balanced on the sharp edge of a fine line and must make their dispositions knowingly and accordingly.
From Peter Bowler's The Superior Person's Book of Words:
lexiphanic: Given to the use of pretentious terminology, such as the word lexiphanic.