Writing a believable story
When a reader picks up a book they expect the author to take them on a trip. To show them places or people they never knew. To learn about a culture or people, even if they are make believe.
With fiction we have a requirement, to entertain, to teach sometimes, to bend the limits of credible belief but we still have to tell a story that has enough fact to make the fiction seem real.
I am writing a book about people that have gone to a place where man has not walked for forty-thousand years. What do they eat? There have been no cultivated crops there so they have to live off the land. Meat and hides they can get from animals. But what do they use to make bread? How do they prepare the grains they find?
I have spent six months researching foods from the precolumbus America. What was available? Rice, oats, goosefoot, cat tail, pumpkin, corn, acorns, pine nuts, squash, cranberries, strawberries etc.
I can’t say they took wheat and ground it into flour. At least not at first. They had to find wild wheat and learn to cultivate it to make flour. They used corn meal, ground acorns that had to be blanched to take out the bitterness, prepared cat tail root for tubers, used the leaves and stalks to make waterproof baskets.
One character becomes an elk. I contacted a university in Canada to find out if elk see colors, how strong is their sense of smell, to use in my story to weave in the facts I found to make it seem possible that a man can become an elk and what he would notice different.
I cannot introduce a person who is purple with fins for hands since my book is not science fiction, which would not be believable. But I do introduce giants, who look like bears, which are human. I tell the reader in the Above World they were known as big-foot. I draw a comparison that will let the reader make that leap of faith that what I write about is now something they can believe in.
Working off of that we as writers can further take the reader on a guided discovery of our world we create. We tell them enough to let them picture it in their minds but not so much we tell them what we want them to believe. We paint the picture; we let the reader see it in his or her mind. That is when we have them hooked. They want to see more of what we are doing.
When you write, make sure that the reader is getting their monies worth. I want my readers to finish a book and want to go see what else I have written. Keep your reader in mind. Don’t take a leap that they will not feel comfortable with. Challenge them, not insult them and they will come back begging for more.