Local Knowledge Continued

A former critique partner wrote recently that she owed me a review. Thrilled, I sent her my latest manuscript and told her to read for content or for any stumbling block, such as too much back story too early in the game.

She has been posting comments -- much appreciated ones. She's the sort who might say the writing's good, but she won't pussyfoot around when it comes to content. That's the sort of reader every writer needs. Her caveat is that I judge her comments through the filter of my own experience, accepting those that are valid. Every one she's sent so far has been insightful -- and answered questions I didn't know I had.

Local knowledge is the one exception.

My cousin and his wife took us to dinner last night (and let me tell you, if you ever get to Morehead City, NC, you've got to visit William's; it's unprepossessing on the outside, but rivals the best in terms of food.) As we scarfed down our salad course, I interviewed my cousins to clarify the issue: could the scene I'd written happen here or would the circumstances and setting be more as my writer friend had suggested?

Local color, local knowledge. We've got to get it right, even if what we describe seems odd to those who live elsewhere. My cousins were adamant: The down-home scene with the down-home props worked. The local deputy wouldn't have had the equipment she had suggested.

As for the rest of her suggestions: they're excellent. I've been using CTRL-X and CTRL-V all afternoon, along with some judicious rewriting.

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