Mist vs. Fog – Who Cares?

Well, I do. Am I anal-retentive about it? I don’t think so, but I do think details are important, especially as a writer.

So, why did I pick mist vs. fog as a topic? I’m a member of a writing/critique group, and we have recently established a blog called Diamonds in the Slush. Our intent is to read and review self-published and small press books, books that possibly wouldn’t get as much notice as something from a large publishing house. The blog will probably go live in April 2013, maybe sooner. When it does I’ll link to it here.

The first book I reviewed had the word mist in the title, but the story only dealt with a fog, not a mist. That nagged at me. So, what’s the difference, and why is it important? Read this brief excerpt from my first novel.

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Excerpt from If a Butterfly by Michael Sirois

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After the first hour or so, the fog lessened slightly, and Dick felt more alert than yesterday. As they neared Loudon, Tennessee, he was gazing through the cedar trees that separated one side of the highway from the other. He could actually see the traffic on the other side now, not just their lights. “It’s more misty than foggy now,” he said.

“What’s the difference?” Jane asked.

“I don’t remember the exact percentages, but I remember reading somewhere that it’s basically a difference in thickness. They’re both just ground-hugging clouds, but fog is thicker, harder to see through. When you can see farther through it, it’s mist.”

“Cool. So, it’s really the same phenomenon, just variations in intensity.”

“Right.”

“Can you have fog when it rains?”

“I don’t think so,” he said. “I’m not sure, but if there’s too much moisture in the air, I don’t think clouds can’t stay on the ground, so if there’s rain on the ground, no fog.”

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Here are two Wikipedia articles if you want some more specific details about mist or fog.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mist

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fog

So why is it important to get the little details right? Trust. How can your readers trust you if your work is riddled with errors, either large or small? This is especially true if your book is set in a real place at a real time. Butterfly takes place in September of 2003, all over the United States and in outer space. Researching the details, before and during the writing of the novel, was difficult and time consuming, but necessary. If I describe cedar trees by a roadway, and readers live in the area I’m describing, they’re going to know (or be able to find out) if the trees are actually there. Unless you’ve created the world of your book, getting it right (as much as possible) allows the reader to believe the rest of the book is accurate becuase they’ve read about something they’re familiar with.

Trust.

How do you research your works?

About michaelsirois

Just a retired educator taking a stab at the Great American Novel.
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