Recently, I asked fellow writers: In A Novel, Should the "Facts" Ring True?
Most authors perform in-depth research before completing their work. They do not want readers drawn out of the story by information that is blatantly false. In some genres, Science Fiction and Fantasy for example, an entire world is created by the writer, and truth is whatever the author creates for that world. But in genres such as Mystery, Romance, and Thrillers, generally accepted truths matter. That is why a newspaper article I read yesterday took me by surprise.
For my novels, research includes reading newspaper articles at the local library (local to the novel's setting), for the dates and locations of the story. As the tale progresses, I also check the Internet and various reference books to verify dates, medical facts, and name derivatives. I don't want a reader to wonder, "Where did she ever get that idea?"
In that frame of mind, I read with disbelief a detailed news article. A man walked into a hospital ... sounds like a take on the old joke, a man walked into a bar ... but this is no joke! The hospital checked his medical coverage, checked his I.D., then checked his heart and told him he was a “ticking time bomb.” He scheduled and they performed heart surgery on him. Days later the man died. His family plans to sue. Only one problem, the man used someone else's medical card and I.D.
If an author used this scenario in a novel you were reading, wouldn't you have a few misgivings about the feasibility of such an occurrence? What is the first question that pops into your head?
After sharing your answer, you can read the full story here: