I seem to have said this word a far amount of late, so thought I would give a brief mention this chilly January morning!
Even if you write fantasy, explore new realities in Sci fi, create mythical creatures this still applies — because no matter the genre, your story needs credibility.
This is established by creating the rules if the fictional world is not of this world, and if the story is set in reality then we know the rules, but you will still create them for your characters. So if a character does something quite bizarre, the signs have to be there, it has to feel credible for this particular character. Rules have to be there, and you make them as you write, even if you don’t think about that.
Sometimes we get carried away with what we let happen to our characters and I find myself saying– really? That’s enough to make that character do that? No way that character would ever be brave enough to do that, no, I’m sure the police would never do that — get my drift?
The latter is a case of checking facts, and with the internet even that is a lot easier these days, but make sure the source is reputable, and you’ve checked the fact in a book or it’s verified from several sources. Reading is a vital part of writing,as you know. But what people often don’t think about is what motivates the character for action.
This is vital so as you plot you need to build in events, memories, actions that make the resultant behaviour of a character plausible — hence credible. If it’s a step too far the reader will know it.
I have been playing with some plot issues these past few days with the latest novel, a challenge setting a story partly in a place I’ve never been, Moscow, and unsure of the kinds of procedures universities in Russian might implement with regards to a feral child! That said I have done my research — and here comes the thing — if the information is not there i.e. you create a fictional situation that is ‘unusual’ then you may have more leeway to use your imagination.
This is where you play the ‘but this is fiction’ card and so long as it feels plausible, you will ‘probably’ get away with it. And I say probably because make sure you don’t stretch possibility too far, make it feel right and people will buy into it.
I had to do this in While No One Was Watching, since one of my first-person narrators is a psychic, and for some, gaining information through insights and visions, may have felt ‘incredible’. I was careful (and remember I did talk to a psychic and research this) to ensure the reader bought into this. And Lydia didn’t always get it right, the facts came through in stunted ways so it was controlled and since everyone seems to love Lydia I think I got this balance right — and someone who could have been an ‘incredible’ character has been loved for feeling so real — great, that’s what I wanted.
If you stretch credibility too far, you could lose your reader, so take heed!
So today I will be re-examining my plot issues … it’s really important to get this right.
Have a great day all!
The new cover for the second edition!