Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Keepin' it real...

Hey guys!

So I have this whole "real" theme going right now, probably because of the launch of my new personal blog (  and that's coming into play again today.

Let's talk about Keepin' It Real in our fiction.

What, you say? Real fiction? Isn't that an oxymoron? A contradiction?

Not anymore! I don't know how many times my editor or my friend's editors have said "That would never happen" or "that's too far out there" (even if it might HAVE actually happened in real life!)

These days, the whole "but it's fiction" excuse just doesn't cut it anymore. A "fictional license" almost doesn't exist outside of maybe some historical novels I've seen lately, where author are sometimes allowed to tweak dates or years slightly to fit their story. Editors (and readers!) want real content they can relate to and learn from and experience and pretend is their own REAL life.

No pressure ;)

Here are some ways to keep it real in your writing today:

1. Keep it real geographically. When I was writing ADDISON BLAKELY, CONFESSIONS OF A PK, I had set the book originally in Texas. When the copy editor got to it, she was literally laughing at the absurdity of how cold it was in the story for September and October. I was showing weather more akin to the midwest. So....I moved my story to the midwest. LOL. Keep it real.

2. Keep it real technically. Characters can multi-task, but don't let them carry a purse, a diaper bag, a suitcase, a duffell bag, a tray of cheese crackers, three grocery sacks, a laptop bag and still hold their toddler's hand and also unlock the door. Now I've done about two thirds of that in real life and impressed myself, but still had to make two trips. ;) This seems common sense in our writing but it's actually really easy to forget our character picked up a coffee cup and never put it down. Keep it real.

3. Keep it real emotionally. Emotions are powerful for people and characters - on and off the page. Respect that and try not to make it cliche. Remember characters are people too, and just like your emotions are often raw and ragged, so are theirs. Let them express themselves in a real manner, though. We sometimes feel like throwing the coffee table but we don't actually. We sometimes feel like punching a hole in the front door but we don't actually. We sometimes feel like hitting our spouse with a throw pillow but we don't actually (well....hahaha) We sometimes feel like screaming or bawling in public but we don't actually. Keep it real.

4. Keep it real worderly. (See how I did that? Worderly isn't a word) Sorry, I blame it on the Halloween candy. Anyway, keep it real with your dialogue. Read it out loud as you go and see if it sounds stilted or too formal. We tend to write more formerly than we speak in real life. Make sure your dialogue is tight and not fluffy and filled with wasted words, but at the same time, make sure it flows and sounds real to your ear. Keep it real.

How do you keep it real?


  1. Since most of my characters are based upon people I know, I try to imagine those people actually doing whatever is going on in my scene.... If it's not realistic, then I try to make it so. Of course, there are things that my characters might do that their real-life inspirations might not do (and vice versa), but for the most part, this works pretty well for me. :)

  2. Good post. I'm working on that right now in my second novel. In fact, I'm trying to interview some guys just to get a feel for how a guy would actually react to a certain situation. Thanks for this excellent post!

  3. This isn't specifically in fiction but about fiction.
    I really thought that if I could push through and write one MS I wouldn't have a problem writing 2 or 3. I thought I wouldn't run into the same struggles. I was SO , SO wrong.

  4. I struggle with everything that took me so long to write my first one and its driving me equally as crazy and questioning if I can do this at all.

  5. Great idea Ashley!

    Alicia, that's sometimes tricky - nailing the opposite gender's POV in our writing! I might do a post on that soon, just for kicks ;) Good for you for researching it out.

    Tonya, keep at it honey. We all have doubts. The authors that find success are the ones who don't quit :)

    1. Thanks! I interviewed two guys today, and it proved really beneficial to get their opinion. I'd love it if you did a post like that!

  6. Great post, girl...this is so incredibly important in our writing!!! :)