“Life goes by so fast, You only want to do what you think is right, Close your eyes and then it’s past.”
-Social Distortion, “Story Of My Life”
Characters can carry a story, but they also can hide the plot, and if it’s a good tale that needs to be told, then wouldn’t it be so much better to have both aspects be great? Just like relating to a character in some way, you can provide a relation to a situation in reality, even if your character (or you, you know you do it) lives in a fantasy.
Fact and fantasy (not necessarily the genre) are quite similar despite the obvious difference (that doesn’t make sense). Take a historical documentary for instance: The reader must get involved with the situation to understand the true degree of the words. Since it was in the past, and did in fact happen, there’s no possible way the reader can enter into the situation they will never encounter without using imagination to understand the truth. Despite what Back to the Future, The Butterfly Effect, or that new movie with the teenagers in it claims, time travel isn’t available (yet) so you have to use your imagination. In Driving: An Unofficial Guide, I talk about the daily commute, but through imagery and relatable situations the reader feels like they’re in the car with me (at least I hope they do) even though they probably will never be my passenger.
When it comes to fiction, the story must be factual in the sense that it must be consistent. An author or writer can make up a world, a crime, a relatable life situation, and so on, but it must be ‘true’ in order to write it per se. If you don’t believe in your story then your reader won’t either. In The Moirai Medallions, dragons are part of the world, they’re real, they’re fact in that story. In the current book I’m writing, Endless, the character is going through a fictitious, but realistic situation, so the subject matter, say it’s suicide (it’ s suicide), should be true to form if based on real life problems and the theme follows suit.
A great story comes from a good idea and an even better outline. Let’s take a movie script for instance. The ‘experts’ say a screenplay shouldn’t surpass 125 pages, whatever, I’m sure many do, but it’s a good base. Find twelve main parts or big events in the plot (including beginning and end), and try to get ten script pages between parts; to break it down even more, add five subjects within the twelve main parts at two pages each and you have yourself a 120 page script.
With books you can do the same, but by word count. Of course the word count range is very broad depending on the genre, but we will focus on a fiction book. Five big parts, five medium parts to each big part, and then five small parts to each medium part; at 1,000 words per small part, you have a 125,000 word novel which would average around 500 book pages depending on the formatting or design. Organization for story development is very important (to me at least).
Three things I can recommend: Sometimes start with an ending and write how you got to that conclusion (the audience is in it to see what happens at the end, so you may as well put a lot of energy into that), Research every detail if you’re not 100% sure (research, research, research, and then research even more), and give the made-up world unique characteristics and make sure stories involving the real world are specific in culture and exclusivity (something we know exists, even in a futuristic world, like if the Great Wall of China was torn down during a war in 2568).
Be creative, be factual, be consistent.