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Reading is Believing

May 6, 2010

I find myself a bit overjoyed whenever an author trusts my opinion enough to review their book. Ghost Stories has allowed me several of these opportunities over the past few years. Recently, a request was made to prepare reviews for three books (the first you read last week). Finished reading the second one yesterday which brings me to today’s topic.

The stories we pen has to possess some degree of believability. Whether or not your writing about a couple falling in love in small town America or aliens battling it out in space, the story has to seem real to some degree. Some writers say to write what you know; a piece of advice which helps you stories to have that believability. Then there’s writing what you don’t know; this opens the field for learning new things.

However, if, for example, you’re writing about a gardener and don’t know anything about gardening, it’s vital you portray the skills, vocabulary, and various other elements to make that character a believable gardener. Characters, setting and plot have to work hand-in-hand draw the reader in to your story. It’s disheartening to read a book with potential but not fall in love with the storyline even if you want to. I feel I was put in this position with the second novel I finished reading.

I can believe a family traveling to a lesser-known resort in a small town for vacation. I can believe gasoline truck explosion being used to kill off the aforementioned family. I can believe the survivors retreating to abandoned mines for safety. I can believe these survivors battling the elements as well as bullets from bad guys. Greed can turn rational in to irrational. Such a storyline could be possible in the real world. However, if the characters, plot, setting all don’t click, it takes the believability out of the story, leaving the reader robbed of some good entertainment.

No matter if your writing what you know or don’t know, it’s pertinent to know the story you’re trying to tell and the characters living it.

Andrea Allison a more detail review of Paradise Flawed will be posted on Ghost Stories this Saturday along with a few digital copies up for grabs.
  1. May 6, 2010 1:28 am

    I often struggle with this element of writing. Sometimes people say my characters don’t react in a believable way. There is that need, especially on horror, to suspend disbelief in some areas but how you do that can often by my biggest challenge.

  2. May 6, 2010 3:19 am

    As you say, writers are often advised to write just about what you know about. And that may be helpful for beginning writers. But you encourage to push beyond that. That’s an important message if we are not to stagnate as writers.

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