how to write fiction

Four steps to more believable fiction.

While we are suspending reality when we write fiction, we still want our readers to be able to travel into the fantasy with us. For fiction to work, it has to be credible. So, how do you make the incredible, credible? You follow some basic steps.

First, you want to draw some boundaries for your reader. Offer them familiar concepts and ideas from the reality in which we all live. The further from that reality you intend to stray with your tale (science fiction, fantasy, etc.), the more you need to ground your work in such a way that both you and the reader at least begin in the same place. Think of yourself as a guide into the story and the readers as your travelers. You need to begin the trail at the same place so they can follow your lead.

As you lead them down the trail, keep in mind that new and unfamiliar concepts should be introduced in a manner that makes them seem either extremely ordinary for this fictional place and time, or they can be made to be as extraordinary in that world as this one. The way you introduce a new concept will affect how the reader perceives it throughout the work,

Since the worlds we invent and share in writing fiction are uncharted territory, it’s easy to lose our own way. Keeping an outline that can be updated and that includes a character map and a timeline are invaluable tools to keep the writer on track. The better you follow your own guidelines, the better guide you will be to your readers.

Finally, don’t be afraid to bend reality. That is what fiction does. It allows us to invent realities of our own. From the most out-there kind of sci-fi to the modern love story set in a real world place, we still get chances to create a window into a new reality that the reader can look through, and for a time they become part of it.

Good fiction needs to be grounded and built with realistic boundaries that give the reader a context from which to view the work. The writer needs to act as a guide, introducing new ideas and concepts in a way they can be understood. A good work of fiction, especially a long work, needs to follow an outline and the writer will need to keep track of a multitude of details to keep it “real” for the reader. Finally, the author of a fictional work can experiment. Pushing the reality envelope is what good fiction writing does, but it also makes sure the reader is able to share the experience by the use of effective communication of new ideas and concepts.

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