Thursday, November 17, 2011


While reading, I came across a chapter that I just couldn’t believe. Yes the story was about paranormal activities and entities, however, even in speculative fiction the reader needs to believe that what’s happening is plausible. I was having a hard time buying into the scene and the steps the characters took to solve the problem.

Reading urban fantasy, dystopian or sci-fi means the reader has to come to the novel with a bit of suspended belief. We know that werewolves don’t exist, but we are willing to accept this for the sake of the story. However, if said werewolf suddenly sprouts wings and starts to fly (when it hasn’t been established that he is a flying werewolf), then we as the reader will most likely go, “Um…WTH is going on here?”

My point; think about what you are writing and make sure that it is logical within the world you have created. Don’t just have characters acting in a certain way just because it will be easier to get the plot moving along. Make sure that normal, rational people will say, “yeah, I can understand why she did that.” And if they can’t, make sure you have truly explained why your character has done something so seemingly foolish.

It’s tricky because you want your characters to be active and not passive, so sometimes they are going to do things that make the reader yell, “No dummy! Don’t do that!” That is different from a situation where just about every reader is scratching his head thinking, um…why in the world did she just do that? And even your explanation doesn’t make it plausible.

We’ve all seen it. The horror movie where the people are safe inside their home and suddenly someone spots something out in the dark woods.

“There’s someone out there.”
The crazy person says, “Let’s go check it out.”

Am I the only one who thinks it’s ridiculous to leave a nice, warm, well-lit home complete with possible weapons and a working phone to go looking around in the woods for a lurking stranger? Who do these people think they are going to find? It’s NEVER going to be Publisher’s Clearing House with a big check.

I know you have all read/seen this type of thing before and you’ve said to yourself—or perhaps out loud—“No one would EVER do that!”

Tell me all about it!


LM Preston said...

That's why beta readers are so important for authors.

Tere Kirkland said...

LOL, we all do stupid things, and I think it's okay for characters to act like idiots sometimes. But it has to make sense in context. I hate being blown out of the story by stuff that makes no sense.

LM is right, betas are very necessary to make sure your vision is being properly translated to the page.

Karen Denise said...

Oh yes, LM, beta readers are golden.

I've certainly done stupid things, Tere. So I don't mind when a character makes me mad by doing something stupid, but like you said, hopefully it won't blow you out of the story.