Aloha and welcome!
I remember the first time I stepped off the plane in Hawaii. I didn’t want to be there and everyone was so happy. Every employee at the airport said the same thing: Aloha and welcome!
We had to move my senior year of high school and I still hold a slight grudge because of it. I hated Hawaii before I ever got there.
I had made up my mind to dislike the entire state and everything about it, and I did.
I finished school, worked 2 jobs, became engaged, had a baby and still hated everything about Hawaii.
But, I learned a few valuable lessons about writing while I was there and I am passing one of those lessons on to you today.
One of the biggest lessons I learned was having a thick skin. When I got my first literary rejection, it came from my own mother.
If you think being turned down by an agent or publisher that you’ve never even met is tough, think again. Being told you aren’t good enough by your own, loving mom…that’ll make your heart ache.
However, one of the best lessons I learned also came from my loving grandmother. That is the lesson I will pass down today.
First, let’s take a look at the writing prompt.
Write a short scene using only things that can actually happen. Rewrite the scene using only things that cannot happen. Combine the two into a final scene.
The lesson I learned from my grandma was that fantasy cannot exist without realism.
If you want to destroy New York City, for example, New York City first has to exist.
If you are writing a book with paranormal, science fiction or fantasy elements, those elements must be based on some Earthly facts.
Now, this isn’t a hard and fast rule, of course. Creative writing doesn’t truly have rules. However, as we have discussed the entire month and often before that, you need reader retention.
Hskjdhwh wndwind asnsdn wnew ojfgret snnw ,sndw. wjrd atekjoanf aaokehr lkjgfrfjfgher a jdfwnw.
What the Hell?
Right. Perfect example here. I can’t just randomly make up a language or words, plop them in the middle of the blog post and expect you to follow along.
I have to give you some context. I need to supply you with a reason for those words to be there. An ancient Orc language that is guttural and unintelligible to human ears may look something like that.
So now, if I have two Orcs in a bar talking and a human walks in, they can switch to my made-up language. You may not be able to understand what they are saying and you may skim over it, but I’ve accomplished a few things in doing so.
First, I set the stage. I gave my reader a reason for the weird language. I also defined it as a language and one that humans cannot understand.
What does this do? It allows me to insert something like: Ahtena fdwnwf poanfghw nsncnwe wofdn r nm asosd wdw
and you don’t care. It doesn’t break the cycle of reading (too much) because it has a reason and basis for being there.
Second, I have let the reader know something shady is going on. Orcs not wanting the human to know what they are talking about can mean just about anything.
Placing them in a dimly lit bar and talking in hushed tones, though, generally means no good.
So now, the reader is drawn into my atmosphere, they understand what is going on. The reader may also be foreshadowing what they think will happen, which leads to them asking questions.
Most importantly, though, I have removed their understanding of what is being spoken, just like the human who walked in on the Orcs. Now, my reader can understand and even sympathize with the human character.
Fact and Fiction
This method works for anything not readily available on Earth. Magic spells, different species, languages, physics, and on and on.
The one thing you do not want to do is turn your reader off. If they start thinking about how “that can’t be possible,” or “I don’t understand that,” instead of enjoying your story, you lost them.
So yes, you can have a planet with 5 suns. You can create a magic spell that lets you go invisible. You can create a car that can time travel.
As long as you first give a reason and possible explanation for it, anything becomes plausible.
So that is your task today. Start by writing a short scene that only has things that actually happen here on Earth. This is your “facts” scene. This is something your reader will fully understand and accept as possible.
Next, write the same scene over again, but remove the facts and use nothing by fiction. This is the scene that will lose your reader. Nothing is possible and there is no way they will believe it.
Then, you combine the two. Put enough fact in there to lay a baseline of believably. Once that is established you can go as far off the mark as you want.
A mix of the two will establish trust and plausibility without turning your reader off. Practice it well and long enough and it will become second nature soon enough.
After you have finished your scenes, post the third one in the comment section below! What did you come up with?