Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Are These Shoes For Real?
Interesting, aren't they? I have a hard time believing anyone would wear them. But, what do I know? Maybe the woman is wearing them out of respect for her recently departed grandmother who designed them. Or, perhaps the man sitting across from her threatened to kill her if she didn't wear them, and she believed him because he killed her best friend last week over the same thing. It could be that, in the society she lives, these shoes are common. If we have unbelievable scenarios in our writing, it is our job as authors to answer these questions for our readers. Otherwise, they won't ever believe. In The Fire In Fiction, Donald Maass discusses this issue in reference to suspense/thriller, but I think his concepts hold true for any genre. To make a reader believe the unbelievable, we have to do three things: 1. Make our protagonist's motivations clear and give them a reason to feel whatever it is they are feeling, which in turn gives them a reason to act the way they do. Then, in the words of Maass, "Pump it up." 2. Make our antagonist's motivations clear and understandable (they can't just be evil for the sake of being evil), and then put some obstacles in his/her way. 3. Come up with every possible argument against the believability of plot and negate it with proof (even if contrived) that it could happen and is, in fact, happening. I've had to work with this issue. Again, just ask my beta readers. But, I'll tell you this: Any far-fetched story can become believable with a little work. So, do you write safe in the believable? Or do you test the waters? If so, what have you done to make your readers believe?