Take Five: #16 of 30: The limits of fiction

Take Five
Five-minute reads about writing
Nov. 3 - Nov. 30, 2010

Courtesy: Sasha Soren (Random Magic)
Twitter: @RandomMagicTour

#16 of 30: The limits of fiction

Fiction is usually sort of restricted, in the sense that, even though the story could be a wild story, it still does have to make a certain kind of sense.

Also, in a work of fiction, there might’ve been thousands of ways a particular story might have unwound, but it unwinds in one particular way.

What I mean is that, while you’re writing a story, you start with a very open story. You might write about anything, anyone, any time, any place, your choices are virtually limitless.

But, as you go along constructing the story, you have to make choices, because if you’re going to write a coherent story, you have to make logical paths for readers to follow.

Your characters do have to sort of stay in character. They might suddenly do something seemingly out of character, but there’s usually a clear path the reader can follow, to understand just why a character suddenly did something that they might not otherwise have done.

Also, as you go along, you start to narrow down possibilities, because when you’re building a plot, events all have to make sense within a particular framework.

For example: This happens because that happened in the chapter just prior. This character does such-and-such as a response to something that’s just happened. Or might happen. Or might not happen. But all of these things are set down, and happen in just one way.

So, even though fiction can be about nearly anything you can think of or imagine, the logic has to be self-contained within one particular book (or series of books).

But in real life -- oh, anything can and often does happen. 

If you'd like some additional help with plot and character, here are two quick links that could be useful:

This Take Five post might be helpful, as it discusses plotting and includes a plotting exercise to try: Walking the plot line 

This exercise in exploring character profiles might help with focusing on particular character traits: Character exercise

From author interview with Sasha Soren.
Interviewer: The Bookette (@the_bookette)

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