It’s December, that time of year when your mind turns to “maybe next year…” Sometimes I think of this as fantasy time because, even though 90% of what I write is nonfiction, I start thinking about writing fiction.
I’m not a complete pantser but I don’t completely outline my stories either. I want to know the inciting incident as well as the three attempts. I also take a good hard look at my plot to make sure it is believable.
Even fantasy has to be believable.
It seems pretty straight forward and like it wouldn’t be all that hard to pull off but I think what goofs us up is trying to make our plots weighty and significant. What can our character fight for that is big and meaningful and dramatic? Yes, those things can be important but so is believability.
You can’t send your character after a ship load of pirates or aliens if it is a fool’s mission. Okay, you can but only if they believe they have no choice.
That means that if your inciting incident is a body in the woods (hello, teen fiction!), there has to be a damn good reason for your main character to investigate on her own. The fact that the victim was her best friend . . . that’s probably not good enough. The fact that the victim was her best friend and she has a big old gap in her memory and thinks that she might have done it? Now you’re on the right track.
Yes, we all know people who in reality do some pretty dim things. But if you’re character suddenly drops 15 IQ points just to move the story along, your editor will most likely point it out.
If your character has to be able to pick a lock, but has no manual dexterity, you better come up with another solution.
Believability is a must in well plotted fiction. It just might take a bit more work to achieve if you are accustomed to writing nonfiction.