As a wordsmith, I like to use accurate, authentic vocabulary/terms, appropriate to the profession and the time period.  Sometimes this pickiness drives me nuts.  An example: I learned I wasn’t using the proper term for an Army Major’s camouflage duds.  I had the heroine gazing at a guy in a civilian parking lot in his “camo’s” (her words).  Now, she’s a civilian who probably wouldn’t know what the hero and his Army buddies call the outfit.  Still, one critic suggested I use the term ‘BDU’ for the man’s Battle Combat Uniform.  A little research online gave me a long explanation of the history of camouflage uniforms for ALL the services.  I come to find out that the Army has replaced BDU’s for ACU’s (Army Combat Uniforms).  Do the soldiers still call them BDU’s?  Next question: Would a soldier wear a BDU/ACU as a ROTC instructor at a college?  I download a 54 page document on Uniform Standards to tease out that answer.  Still, I have to ask:  Would a civilian know about BDU’s or ACU’s?  I sure didn’t, and I’m an Army brat!


Heavy sigh, here.  I want to be accurate, but this is getting ridiculous!


Now comes the danger part.  Readers enjoy local color, right?  We like to be accurate about names and descriptions of places in order to please the local reader.  Still, in the back of our minds, we realize that using real names could get us into trouble (liability, slander, etc.).  In some cases, we might need written permission to use a brand name in our book.  What I’ve started doing to get around this problem is to make up names that are so much like the true term the local reader will know what I’m talking about.  Cypress Ridge Estates becomes Cypress Crest Estates.  Is that what you do?  One of my stories required a radical, right wing group.  I found real one online that scared the bejesus out of me.  I changed their name in my novel a tiny bit, so tiny that if a reader Googled the name I used, they’d find the real group.  Now I’m nervous the gang of 2,000 will come after me!


I’d enjoy hearing your take on accuracy in a novel and the principles you follow for using real names of places, people and things.  Has anyone out there gotten into trouble for what you’ve written?


While you ponder that, take a look at FADEOUT and SWOON, from my Funeral Planner Suspense Series.  Learn all about them on my website, but here are some tidbit teasers about SWOON:


“Don’t miss SWOON by Rolynn Anderson! If you like an interesting cast of characters, a heavy dose of mystery and a lot of fabulous surprises, you’ll be happily turning pages late into the night.Ë®

~ Brenda Novak, NYT and USA Bestselling Author of WHEN LIGHTNING STRIKES


Her dead clients won’t rest in peace.

When the dead tell tales, Jan Solvang’s first reaction is to RUN!  But then she gets caught up in their mysteries.

Jan’s a boutique funeral planner, new to risk, hired to bury a missing woman and memorialize an infamous man.  Yet when she digs for clues to write their eulogies, she disturbs family secrets and unmasks killers.

Roman Keller, hard-driving documentary writer, is in complete control of his life and his stories, until he falls for Jan, a woman who trusts her dog, her faint-dreams, and her instincts more than she trusts him.


Can they make the sacrifices necessary to cement their relationship or will the mayhem caused by the dead ruin their second chance at love?




Pin It on Pinterest

Share This