Errors in novels

The Twilight series had become infamous due to a lack of research from Stephenie Meyer’s part. Shall I enumerate her errors?

Mystery writers also like to have characters put “silencers” on revolvers, which won’t work. Silencers (technically, supressors) also don’t work on hypersonic calibers unless they are downloaded to be slower than the speed of sound, don’t really silence the weapon’s report as much as muffle it and change the sound quality, and are usually really long and bulky, unlike the thin, short tubes you see in movies.

It’s also a common mistake that a character is blown off his feet by a rifle, shotgun, or pistol. As every action has an equal and opposite reaction, any weapon capable of knocking a man off his feet would also knock the shooter off his (or her) feet,

Don’t even get me started on mistakes in theology or depiction of the Church.

Like with Dan Brown’s novels.

That’s why two things are crucial for authors:

  1. Do your research.
  2. Or else make up a fantasy world.
  3. Even then, do your research.

Well, whadaya know. That’s three. :smiley:


Even the title of his most famous novel is a huge error - “The Da Vinci Code.” You don’t refer to Leonardo da Vinci as “Da Vinci” as if that were his surname. It would be like saying I’m “Mike, from Arizona” and then referring to my house as “that’s from Arizona’s house.” Leonardo didn’t have a surname, as an illegitimate son he was allowed to use “Leonardo di ser Piero” by his father, Piero Fruosino di Antonio da Vinci. “Da Vinci” meant Leonardo was from the town of Vinci (actually, he was born in Anchiano, near Vinci, but his father was a political bigwig in Vinci.)

When an author can’t get past the first three words in the title of his book without making an enormously illiterate mistake, should it surprise anyone that the rest of the book is a big mess of theological error and historical inaccuracy?

I can also say the same for the Twilight series as well. The only difference between her and Dan Brown is that even though both authors failed at research, Stephenie Meyer’s Mary Sues and Gary Stus are more evident than with Dan Brown’s characters.

Sometimes authors keep a popular character the same age through their books, well past the point of believability. I liked Robert Parker’s Spenser novels, but he established that he was a Korean War vet in the first book, published in the 1960s, and by the 1990s he was still brawling with young thugs at an age when he should probably have been in a nursing home.

You also find errors when someone borrows from a more knowledgeable author, without their background. Dashiell Hammett did have some experience as a private investigator working for the Pinkerton Agency. (Although he probably oversold the investigation end of things - much of his work actually involved strikebreaking and anti-union work for the Pinkertons, which he found embarrassing in light of his later far-left sympathies.) He did have some knowledge about criminal lingo, though, and in his novel “The Maltese Falcon” he refers to Wilmer Cook, a young hood that was employed by Kasper Gutman, “the Fat Man,” as a “gunsel.” The slang term at that time meant a homosexual male, especially one that was kept by an older man, which told us more about Wilmer’s relationship with Gutman. Writers who didn’t share Hammett’s knowledge of underworld slang thought the term just meant a hood or a gunman, and began using the term for any such person.

I took a college writing class and was told that every character that was in your writing should have a “character sketch.” Basically it was an outline about the character.

Name, age, race, where they grew up, parental information and the like. For a character that just popped in for a sentence or two, the sketch could be very short. For a main character it had to be much more detailed.

Something as simple as this, would fix the problems of characters changing age, height or background.

(On the show MASH, Hawkeye’s mother was alive but had also died while he was a child. :shrug: )

In theatre you’re also supposed to do that for your character (along with finding the shoes your character will wear early during the rehearsals). It helps how you walk and talk if you have a back story.

On behalf of all novelists, my apologies.

Not that we’re going to stop making mistakes but we hope they don’t get in the way of your enjoying the story.

If St. John the Apostle and Evangelist was the last divinely-inspired writer, then he was the last “perfect” writer. (And what a writer he was! “God is love.” Top that!)

or 4. hire a very good story editor.

Except for Webley-Fosburrys (see John Boorman’s Zardoz) :smiley:

Any work of fiction, written or protrayed, requires a certain level of disbelief–however, when they are so egregious and so frequent it starts you noticing other flaws–which may lead you to the conclusion that the author is just a hack and really holds his readers in contempt (all the way to the bank–and not just Dan Brown is guilty of this)

Stephenie Meyer is also guilty of this.

You think that’s bad, you should see the non-fiction eschatological book that Jerry Jenkins wrote to go along with that series. Some sections had more factual errors (and I’m talking about errors of fact, not different interpretations of the Bible) than there were pages.

When I wrote my one novel, I was surprised how much research I had to do to keep thinks real, and this was a sci-fi story where I could have just made things up.

Yes, I agree about the research. I write novels about synchronized skating (see the website in my signature), and I do a lot of research about the settings, buildings, restaurants, etc.

I was very pleased when a coach asked me if my children had grown up skating at the North Carolina rink in my novels. I had to tell her–I made that rink up! It’s not real! She was surprised! But of course, I’ve been in so many rinks and arenas over the years that designing a “fake rink” isn’t difficult for me.

OTOH, I always check out the geography of any city that is in my novels. If I say that it takes ten minutes to drive from the rink to the beach, I make sure that there IS a beach, and that it is realistic to put a rink (if I’m not using the real arena in the city) ten minutes away from that beach!

That may have been deliberate, as the expected mostly US viewership would not be expected to recognize the Canadian uniforms.


Not so much novels but I hate errors in movies. Especially when they show a Catholic ceremony (or what looks like a Catholic ceremony) includes the phrase, “speak now or forever hold your peace” I’ve seen this so much and it annoys me.

The Internet (especially Google Earth) has made this really easy. I was able to create a hiding place for one of my characters in the woods surrounding a field that really exists, near a town that really exists. Also, some of the action takes place in the White House – the photo tour sites were fantastic. And one scene was set next to the Great Mosque in Mecca – love Google Earth!

i also do not like to find spelling errors in novels. i wonder what editors are paid these days or does something happen during the printing process?
i haven’t found any other errors in novels. maybe i am not paying that much attention to detail.

i do find errors in movies though and that does annoy me.

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