Fact In Fiction: Keeping Your Story Realistic

Fact in Fiction

One of the amazing things about creative writing is that you get to create your own worlds and characters. Every tiny little detail is left up to you to decide. There’s essentially no limit to what you can do with the material that you come up with.

But….

Yes, there’s a but.

Your writing still needs to be realistic. “But, Kiara,” you say skeptically, “I write fiction. It’s not supposed to be realistic.”

No. No, no, no no no no no. That’s not how it works. Not even in the slightest bit. Yes, fiction is all about delving deep into places that none of us have set a single foot on (and never will), but no matter how fantastical these worlds and situations get, they have got to be grounded in some sort of reality, or it’ll become something that no one wants to read. If a book breaks too many “reality rules”, it’ll come off as over the top and annoying.

This can be a difficult subject to approach, as our minds expand inward infinitely. Something I see as a solid law of reality that needs to be in your story could conflict with an amazing idea of yours that specifically needs that law cut out, and I can’t even imagine the ideas you have, so I can’t adjust what I say to fit them. I’m going to try, anyway.

One thing I see as necessary in most books, whether they be situated in a fantasy land or not, are the basic laws of science. The water cycle. The way gravity intervenes in everyday life. Objects that are in motion tend to stay in motion, all that good stuff. Chances are that those kinds of things are pretty much the same in your carefully crafted world. If they’re suddenly absent and anything is possible, your reader is going to furrow their brow and stare at your book condescendingly. (Like I said, there are exceptions to everything I am saying, so don’t get riled up). It doesn’t make sense that a very human character should be able to make a 100-foot jump without gravity and other scientific forces acting against them. That seems like a scam to your reader, because no one could do that in real life. Although your character could be something other than human with special powers and abilities, keep in mind that there are still limits to what they can. There are some things that no character, no matter how special or powerful, should be able to do because they’re so outlandish.

Another aspect that’s important to keep realistic is the matter of wounds, sicknesses, and other general physical plights that plague your fictional accomplices. Unless your character has some sort of healing power (or the like), you should know what is physically possible and what isn’t for them. Does this real-life plant actually have the ability to make them sick? How long would it take to recover from this sickness/wound? How much blood can they lose before their status turns critical? It’s ridiculous if your character loses more blood than is humanly possible, has two broken legs, a concussion, and a hundred cuts and bruises and is still standing, let alone fighting/walking/questing and generally being perfectly okay. There are loopholes to this (as always), but most of the time, stick with what’s possible.

Fiction is supposed to be an escape to something where fantastic things can happen, but if there’s no element of realism, no one will be able to relate, and your story will fall flat. You don’t want readers to handle your every written word with skepticism, do you?

Despite common belief, fact and fiction can mix – and when they do, it’s a recipe for a good book.

Your turn! What are some annoying unrealistic trends you’ve found in stories? What realistic themes do you think books always need to include? Are there any other topics pertaining to fiction realism that you want me to address? Do tell!  

Writing Inspiration To Start Your Week

We all get discouraged. As we pound away at the keyboard, writers can get doubts.

No one will want to read this. You’re never going to finish thisYou won’t be anywhere near as good as the authors you lovePeople will hate your book. You’re a fraud.

Those are things that go through every writer’s mind at some point. After all, your hardest critic is yourself.

As you start this week, I want to give you a bright outlook on your writing, so I’ve amassed some quotes and gifs that will inspire you to press on and write that book!

Who are you to argue with Walt Disney?

So get out there and approach this week with a renewed enthusiasm. You can create something amazing – don’t give up!

And remember, writers:

Yes, yes we can.

How about you? What are some of your favorite inspirational writing quotes? Do tell!

3 Reasons Why I’m Afraid To Write A Dystopian (And Why I’m Doing It Anyway)

If you were around when I talked about my plans for NaNo, you saw the rough overview of the story I want to work on during the month of November. There’s something entirely frightening about this story for me:

It’s a part of the dystopian genre. 

That’s definitely not in my wheelhouse. At all. Fantasy is where my heart is, and I have absolutely no experience writing dystopian. In fact, I’m a little worried about venturing into the science-fiction world that is called dystopian. Here are three reasons why I’m nervous about putting myself forward and writing this genre.

(Google Images. Credit to rightful owner.)

(Google Images. Credit to rightful owner.)

1. Detail

I may be taking American Government this year, and it’s really interesting, but I’m still not very well-versed in politics. I have no idea how my dystopian government is going to work, how the prison is laid out, all that jazz. I love creating and inserting details into my stories, but dystopians require a lot of attention in that field. November’s coming quickly, and I’ve gotta get this government/society system in check. It’s a big, although not entirely unwelcome, challenge. The detail requirement I know I need is just overwhelming right now.

2. Cliches

I may have chosen to place this one second, but it’s the biggest deal for me. Dystopian stories are riddled with cliches. I can sum up most dystopians in a few words: Plain girl/guy is the catalyst for a rebellion against an evil, oppressive government. Also, love triangles. Cliches can be okay sometimes, but it seems that dystopian stories all have the same plot (with the exception of The Reckoners Series and The Giver). I’m really afraid of my story being just like every other dystopian. It’s a daunting thought, to try to make my novel stand out from all the others. I have to convince people that’s it fresh and new and worth the read – and then I have to deliver on that promise.

3. Redundancy 

Dystopian novels are everywhere. They’re a really common sight, and I do not want to be known as one of those authors whose one-hit-wonder first book is a dystopian. I don’t want to repeat what others have done – I don’t want to be just another dystopian novel on the shelves. I don’t want to be confined by the definitions of this genre. Since dystopians are seen all the time, I want mine to be something more than redundant. I want to do something that hasn’t been done before.

“Then why are you writing a dystopian?” You may ask. I’m writing this, despite my criticism of the genre, because I love the idea. It’s creative and exciting, and I want this novel out in the world. I believe that if I try hard enough, I can write something that critics don’t just peg as “the next Hunger Games” (as they do so often), but as a imaginative story that can hold its own among the others in its genre. I believe that my idea is different and unconventional, and that it holds so much potential.

I’m taking a risk and I’m nervous about the turnout, but I won’t be cliched. I won’t be redundant.

I’m going to make sure of that.

What genre would you be afraid to write? What things are you scared that people will say about your novel? Are you pushing on regardless of your fear? Do tell! 

ANNOUNCEMENT: NaNoWriMo 2015

BEEP! BEEP! ANNOUNCEMENT! 

*muffled announcer intercom voice* Guess what? This writer is officially going to be participating in NaNoWriMo 2k15!

What’s NaNoWriMo? It stands for National Novel Writing Month, which runs all throughout November! There’s a project that runs in conjunction with the National Novel Writing Month (shortened to NaNoWriMo) that challenges writers to reach a certain word goal in 30 days. It’s a fun, people-based assignment that serves to encourage and inspire writers everywhere.

Whereas the regular version is set at completing a 50,000 word goal, the Young Writer’s NaNo Program (the one I’m participating in) offers a personalized goal-plan. I’m vying for 30,000 words, which is the starting goal for young writers.

I’ve wanted to participate in NaNoWriMo many times before, but I was too scared that I would fail to reach my goal and would be angry at myself. This year, several of my writer friends encouraged me to take a recent idea and just go for it! I agreed, signed up for NaNo, and now I eagerly wait for November to arrive, bringing an action-packed 30 days and a half-developed plot with it.

If you want to check out my work with NaNoWriMo, go to the NaNoWriMo Young Writer’s Program Site. My username is Ash Finn, after two main characters in my new novel, so feel free to check out my bio. Here’s the summary I provide on the site for my new novel, “Prisoner”:

Finn’s destiny was chosen for him. The future crimes of a rich child were projected onto him when he was born, and he’s been imprisoned with all of the other poor children as the government’s way of trying to seclude and eliminate all crime. Finn’s watched the other inmates. They’re taken away at the age of eighteen…and they don’t come back. Finn turns eighteen in a week, and he’s not about to let the same mysterious fate befall him as it did the others. But escaping that outcome means also escaping the prison – and changing the course that was set for him.

I have a feeling that the first part of the plot will change radically, because it’s got a lot of loose strings, but this novel is kind of sci-fi and dystopian — definitely out of my comfort zone. We’ll see what happens!

Every Monday in November, I’ll post an update on my NaNo progress. I hope y’all will stick with me and follow along, and as always, keep commenting! I love hearing from you.

How about you? Have you ever done NaNo before? How did it go? Are you doing NaNo this year? Do tell!