Monday, April 27, 2009

Flora & Fauna in Your Novel or Story Setting

This may be something you take for granted, but if you are writing something set in a different area or historical period, the types of plants and animals in the area can add or detract from your story. You may think you know your setting inside and out, but even if you only refer to another area, you could easily mistake one type of animal or bird for another. (Unless this is a clue in a mystery, say, for example, a character supposedly from South America talking about the emus instead of the rheas and that giving the clue that they're not from there after all.) One Regency author I read a number of years ago gave herself away as an American by refering to a bluejay. England has jays, but they aren't blue.

One thing you can do is get bird & plant guides (from the library or used bookstore if you're strapped for cash). Don't automatically refer to something and think you're right about it. (Remember that scene in "Mary Poppins," where the "robin" is an American Robin, not an English one?!)

If your book has an historical setting, make certain that the birds & animals you put into your book were there at that time. Migration patterns and habitats change. Species become extinct. Checking your facts can keep you from making a blunder that will have readers either laughing or grinding their teeth.

Make your research fun. Challenge yourself. You'll be glad you did!

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