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Dressage and fact in fiction

So, I started seriously riding horses when I was seven or eight and rode until I was thirteen and had back surgey. Now, during that time, I was not a dressage rider. I read about it, looked at pictures of dressage riders in Horse Illustrated, but did not participate in what's sometimes referred to as "horse ballet." But in Chasing Blue, I have several dressage scenes. The horse accuracy is completely on my shoulders, so I had to do some research on dressage including the course, movements, attire and scoring. The more I read, the more I wish I had tried dressage! The benefits to horse and rider are numerous and it's quite a beautiful discipline. I've also been checking out lots of horse blogs and getting inspiration from those.

Do you research any parts of your fiction? How do you decide how technical to get?

And the countdown to Thanksgiving is on. :) What're you doing for the holiday?


Emily Marshall said…
Dressage always looked interesting. I know nothing about it.

I actually do quite a bit of research for my fiction. But I love research. I don't end up using half of it and most of the time, I change stuff for my story's benefit, anyway. But I think it's still important that it rings true.

There's a bunch of TV shows I know bug me sometimes when they are inaccurate. But half the time I think they do it for the sake of the general public to understand, so I cut them a break.

Like Men in Trees is a favorite of my husband's and I's to critique in and out. He's a entomologist and knows almost all the things out of Jack's mouth regarding the environment are just plane wrong or slightly off. But no one else notices or even cares, I'm sure, if the flower they are talking about isn't really the one shown or that it wouldn't be in "season" that time of year. Or the fact that no "editor" I've heard of in the publishing world acts like Jane does to Marin. She's much more like an agent because she "sells" the books. But people outside of publishing wouldn't get the term "literary agent," since it's slightly different than other agents more universally known about. So they call her an "editor," I think mostly for clarity.

Even though it bugs us sometimes, we still watch the show, and now it's become kind of a game to pick out the inaccuracies.

Okay, long post for a short answer. So yes, research is good, but sometimes it's better to make sense, so people can understand. Just my opinion.
Stephanie said…
Dressage is so beautiful! I'm glad it's a part of your story. There used to be horse stable in my town that specialized in dressage work. So pretty! I also used to have a roommate who was nationally ranked in sidesaddle which I also find to be very beautiful.

I haven't had a to do a lot of research with my NaNo novel thus far, but I think research partially depends on the audience. For your novel, there's the factor of the age of those who will be reading it, whether they ride, and whether those reading will pick up on the detail! It depends on genre, but I sometimes feel kids can be more picky about fact, especially if they know what you're talking about. Don't know if that remotely made sense...

I'll say that I was no horse expert when I was growing up, but I appreciated when a novel went into detail about the subject. It's that whole tween submersion thing...where they kind of throw themselves into mini obsessions. I wanted to know every little bit I could about horses when I was reading about them. So this is all to say that I think it's great that you're researching dressage so carefully.
Emily, I love Men in Trees too and I noticed that about the agent/editor mixup!

Steph, I'm so glad you think research is good for tween fiction. :)
Bri Meets Books said…
Studying for the GRE and going home for Thanksgiving.

I get be home for 6 wonderful days!
Kelly Parra said…
I research enough to make it look like I know what I'm talking about. haha! Anymore detail and I fear making a blantant error. Best of luck--it sounds interesting!

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