Friday, October 2

“The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense.”
~Tom Clancy

A lot of readers look for a story they can connect to.
And it's hard to connect to a story if you don't believe it. I'm not talking about delusions, but the way the story makes sense.

The Character’s actions and reactions

I have always groaned in despair when the characters enter a magical world and go “Hey, this is cool.”
In Wings by E.D. Baker the character lives in present times, so it was horribly frustrating when she sees a goblin and says, “That’s creepy. They’re following me,” and doesn’t tell her parents.
Then she sprouts wings. “Oh great, now I’ll be an unpopular freak.”
By the time I got to the part where she enters the magical world going, “Oh no, this is weird. Cool, is that magic?” I slammed the book down and didn’t read another word.
To make it believable, the character’s first thoughts should be “This is a dream, it was a coincidence, they’re lying,” because in reality, people have a marvelous ability to ignore and rationalize for things they see and hear.
If they’re already in a magical world, it’s easy, they’re used to it.

I’ve stumbled upon countless books where people die. To name of few, here are annoyingly inaccurate descriptions of how other characters reacted to it;
“What will I tell his wife?”
“At least the death wasn’t painful.”
“(So-and-so) wouldn’t want us crying over her.”
“Poor (deceased character).”

You need weeping, hollow hearts, deadened senses, minds full of disbelief that they’re gone, anguish. Tug at the reader’s heartstrings.

The Setting
If it’s set in the city, and at night it’s perfectly quiet and you can see the stars, there’s something the matter with reality. If it’s set in a place you’ve lived or visited before it’s easy to make the setting believable. If you’ve never been to a place like that, you have to do (ugh) research.
Sadly enough, a good fraction of my rough drafts have the characters on the sea, on a boat, shouting nautical terms. (What the heck are a bow and a sprit?) I’ve been to the ocean maybe twice in my life, never actually riding in a boat. So it’s a little tough. Research, research, research your topic.

I once wrote a story set in Ancient Egypt. It’s supposedly night yet the character glances at the sundial to see the time. A family member kindly pointed out to me that a sundial shows time by a sun casting a shadow. And there’s no sun. (Don’t laugh at me.)
Another time, a character meets a beautiful girl…who wants to kill him (Before you think that’s sounds insane, she’s royalty and wants to execute him as an example.) A few paragraphs later I realized that I should probably stop him fawning over her, because you’d have to be pretty messed up to have a crush on the person who wants you dead.
Think about logic; if there’s a storm, how does that affect the surrounding countryside? Is there a river nearby? If so, it probably will flood the banks. How does that affect the characters?

Be logical; make the story seem real enough that the reader will be sucked in. Don’t push your reader away like Wings pushed me away.

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