How to Write a Believable Story: Being an Illusionist
When you’re writing, it’s kind of like you’re creating an illusion. It’s sort of like being an actor on the stage. Actors are illusionists at heart. With the costumes they wear, the voices they use, and the way they use their bodies they are attempting to fool the audience in the believing that they are their characters and that the world they live in, is real. Authors have to do the same things when they write. You have to, with a few well-chosen words, make the audience believe in your story and your characters. With some things that’s easier than with others. It’s really when you get into certain things like historical dramas, period pieces or fantasy that the creation of the illusion must go deeper. Say you’ve written a fantasy story, but the characters are so outlandish and the story is so bizarre that they sound incredibly fake, you’re reader probably isn’t going to get invested in it. Think about it, when you were reading a book didn’t it make the story have a greater emotional impact on you that you could almost see it? And when you can get your readers hooked emotionally, then you’ve got them in your pocket.
If you’re trying to write a historical drama one of the best things you can do to achieve the illusion of realism is research. Have you ever taken a class with a teacher who didn’t really know what they were talking about? It makes it a lot harder to learn when the person who’s supposed to be teaching you is learning the material right along with the class. The same concept goes for writing. If you’re writing about a specific era or even a specific emotion, then you’ve got to know what you’re talking about. I was writing a 19th century drama that was centered in England a while ago, so I had to learn as much about that time as I could. If I was going to make the reader believe in the 19th century world I was attempting to create would I have to make every aspect of that world as genuine as possible. If you need any help in the research department, I suggest going down to your local library and checking out the reference section. Also, read other authors of that era. For example, if you’re interested in the Gothic literature of the Romantic Era (late 1700’s – 1850) you might try reading Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein or John Pollidori’s novella The Vampyre. That leads me to another point, if you’re writing anything it’s a good idea to read other pieces of literature that are similar to yours. If you get blocked or just want some help generating idea might help you generate some more ideas.
Exercise of the Day:
If you’re in a bit of a slump, one thing you can do to perk up those creative juices is watching movies and reading books. For this exercise you should pick one book or movie and pick a small character from that piece (for example, Meg Giry from “Phantom of the Opera” or Maria Lucas from “Pride and Prejudice”) and write a new story with that character as the central figure. This one’s really fun because you get the chance to create a whole new backstory for your character using just the little bit of info from the original story. Have fun creating and I’ll talk to you next time!