Wednesday, July 5, 2017

DON'T BE TOO REAL by Hannah Rowan

“You should put that in a book.”

How many times have authors heard that?  Even from each other.

The problem is—in light of all the crazy, mixed-up,, messed-up things we see on a daily basis—they don’t always translate well into a book.  Yes, something may be interesting, but does it make for a good story?

Never mind that it really happened that way.  A lot of times the things that really happen are so illogical, nobody would believe them in fiction.

To my intense frustration, the characters in a story are supposed to have motivation for whatever it is they’re doing. It took me a while to figure this out.

I still remember one of my first critique partners who read my manuscript/mess in progress and asked “Why are they doing this?”

Well, why not?  I thought whatever cutesy thing they were doing at that time was interesting.  She had to explain to me that though interesting is nice, having a reason for doing something was more or less a requirement.

Yes, but…it really happened to my cousin’s next door neighbor!

Too bad for me.  Of course, if I could come up with a logical reason why someone was doing something, and it fit in with the characterization and the motivation in the story, I suppose it would be okay.

But in real life, people do things for all sort of wacky reasons that onlookers find it hard to understand or believe.

I guess that’s why we like to escape into fiction.  There’s a reason for things, and even the most bizarre things have to be grounded in some sort of logical framework.

At the very least, some of those things that people think we should put in a book can be a good jumping-off point for a plot that really does make sense.

How many people get their story ideas from something that happened in real life?


  1. I've never even considered this, but it's sure true, isn't it? I've used pieces of things before, but haven't always considered the motivation. Good post, Hannah

  2. I do get tired of people saying to to "put that in a book." They don't get romance!


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