This is my first #AuthorToolBox blog post and honestly after I signed up I got a little worried. Why? Well, because I’m not one to dole out “advice” that’s why. I do what I do and it works for me. I don’t claim to be an “expert” in anything. In fact, I barely think I have my stuff together on a good day. But here we are, so I’m going to give it my best.
In trying to determine what my first topic will be, I read some of the other blog posts from this hop to get a feel of what sort of things were discussed. In the end I decided on realism in fiction. Or at least what that means for me, and hopefully you’ll gain some takeaways.
The header on my blog says fictional characters, realistically in love (I’m still working on a tagline I like) and that’s because over the course of five books, a common theme that has appeared in some of my reviews were the characters/situations were so true to life. How do I do that? Well, I keep it basic.
That’s it. That’s my “motto” as it were.
I do that in a few ways. First I keep my plot fairly simple. I don’t throw in added drama/situations that create a continual set of obstacles for my characters. What that means is they won’t have their house burn down, and lose their job, and be battling against the fates of everyone hating them for one reason or another.
Instead my characters will have one main struggle and the story will center around that with maybe a minor issue here and there, but it’s not always do or die, them against the world. Sometimes less is more. Having a lot going on could work against you in that the main goal could get lost in the noise.
And I get it, sometimes life does pile it all on at once, but I’m sure we’ve read those stories where things just kept coming and you end up mumbling “come on” under your breath at the absurdity of it all.
As for my characters, I make them “real” 3D personalities by giving them traits/quirks from people around me. It’s the little things that can have a big impact on making a character relatable.
Ex. Malcolm from Not Broken has an extensive shoe and clothing selection. That quirk was modeled after my younger sister’s boyfriend (who is fully aware). Malcolm also prefers to have CDs opposed to digital music and he organizes them and his Blurays alphabetically. Both of those quirks I borrowed from my hubby.
Also give them flaws. Let them mess up, make wrong decisions, screw up and learn from it. I think the term is Mary Sue for the “perfect” character. The one that always says the right thing, or knows exactly what to do in all situations no matter what. They are never the cause of an issue, things instead happen to them and they have react instead. Lack of agency I believe would be the term for it (I’m really bad with terms). That sort of thing leaves no room for character growth in my opinion.
When I read a book I want to be able to relate to the character. I want to be able to see myself in that situation and figure out how I might react to it. I keep that thought in mind when I’m writing and then embellish.
That’s it. Just remember to keep it simple. Imagine how a situation would play out in a real world setting. Yes, it’s fiction, but you still want to be able to ground the reader so it at the very least seems plausible. Round out your character with traits/quirks/flaws. As humans we all have these, so they should be present in the fictional ones we create.
Now these apply to what I write, which is contemporary. If you’re a fantasy, PNR, etc type of writer, well these may not work as well, but you should still keep things consistent for your world.
Until next time
*all images used were courtesy of https://pixabay.com/*