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Why You Need a Fact Checker

 


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Every “t” was crossed and every “i” dotted. But you were caught winging it when you described Vermont in spring with the fireflies lighting up the night. Oops, fireflies, carnivorous beetles, don’t appear in Vermont evening skies until June. A quick check of the facts probably would have saved your writing career. Now you’ve been told to look into fiction; novel writing as a better outlet for your talents. Here are six reasons why you need a fact checker to save your, uh, face.

Save Time. What may take you hours of searching on the Internet, a fact checker could find in minutes. Some fact checkers specialize in medical, politics or pop culture topics. These guys and gals are the truth finders for professional and consumer magazines and publications. They are trained to turn things around in 2 days, or sooner depending on the material and the deadline.

Save Money. Fact checking fees are usually hourly. If it’s only a few thousand word article you may only be looking at a $50 to $100 out-of pocket expense. Fact checkers will also grant discounts if you decide to utilize their services again. Any fact checker worth his or her salt will not milk you for hundreds and hundreds of dollars. Note: fact checkers are not editors. Although certain fact checkers will provide suggestions on how to improve your piece.

Gain Jobs. Consistently turning in unchecked pieces thinking that the publishers will “do the fact check” is a mistake. Even if a publisher has an army of fact checkers and your articles are difficult to check (e. g. , no sources, no footnotes or some fabricated material) then be sure the publisher will hear the complaints. Then they’ll search for a writer who has good checking skills or the good sense to have a fact checker review the piece before it was submitted.

Save Face. (And avoid the Jayson Blair ripple effect. ) In May 2003, A New York Times reporter was forced to resign from his job due to the fallacious nature of his reporting. He plagiarized too. Blair wasn't lazy—he was an exceptional reporter and came highly recommended. The problem was that he kept getting things deliberately wrong. There was a “don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story” attitude. This is a recipe for a lawsuit. Good stories have good facts.

Develop a reputation. A good one. Writers who have fact checkers by their side in the creation of articles or books are on their way to a long and happy writing career. Even in romantic fiction a bit of fact checking can help the piece’s credibility. The rich, rascally count can’t be unhooking a brassiere from a poor peasant girl if the novel takes place during the late 1800’s. Corsets were in style until the 1930’s when bras were commercially manufactured. Allow the fact checker to do their job, while you do yours—write.

Bernadette Sukley is a freelance writer with an eye towards the quirky. Her work has appeared in Sports Illustrated for Women, ABROAD and Prevention.com. Trying to find that oddball fact? Or just love the unique? She does too. Contact: novelist2be@excite.com and http://thequirkywriter.blogspot.com/

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