Anyone who is married to a male of the species knows that fictional heroes might make a few gaffes, but they always come through in the end with the appropriate groveling, grinning, gut-wrenching smile that wins our hearts... and makes us love romance.
In real life that might come through as a grunt. At least around here, grunts tend to outnumber gut-wrenching smiles. Please DO NOT tell me if your reality is different. Let me live in my obscure view of reality.
So what makes "reality" fiction different?
It goes deeper. It taps into the poignancy of the moment with a punch. It deals with the dark sides of life and sheds light and faith on them... and healing.
Or it simply goes all mainstream literature and leaves you wondering if life is worth living... But I love my happy endings. I love hope and no matter how bad reality is, hope springs forth.
Hi, I'm Ruthy and I love writing reality fiction. And with almost two million books sold, it seems readers like it, too.... But this blog isn't about me. I know my strengths. I work to polish my weaknesses, and they are many.... Here are a few flaws that editors help me on all the time:
Ascribing the same catchy words to more than one person
Messed up timelines
Not enough romance
Too much romance
Too much time on secondary characters in short books
So you'd think I'd learn that these are my weaknesses, and I know it... and I try to slice and dice and deliver a clean product. But writers aren't perfect and that's why an editor is a marvelous and very necessary thing.... It's okay if you don't think so. I know writers who offer their work up after a beta reader gives them the thumb up emoji.
I want the polish. I want my indie fiction as strong as my traditional fiction. And I've worked with great editors from half-a-dozen publishing houses. I've learned so much from them... But not so much that I trust my work raw or with readers because an editor looks closer. Deeper. I use Beth Jamison of Jamison Editing for my indie work. We make a good team. She's reasonable, quick and good at her job.
The reason I'm going into all of that is because when you're writing reality fiction... A term that our friend Vince used years ago in a book review... fiction that's going to jump into tough subjects, you need to take it and your work seriously. I once read the opening of a book that dealt with a grave disaster... a disaster that killed thousands of people in its path, including people the protagonist saw EVERY DAY.... and it got a mere mention. As if the protagonist was too caught up in her life to be blindsided by the disaster.
Instantly I knew this person had never been through a storm of that proportion... I knew they were focusing on the internal struggle of the character and ignoring the HUGE, MONSTER STORM raging outside the door, leaving havoc and death in its path.
A storm that killed so many people and left thousands homeless deserved better because the aftermath of the storm is just as devastating and life-changing as whatever was going on in that poor girl's head. It was painfully clear that this person either didn't think the MONSTER STORM was of any consequence (and it was of huge consequence to the entire story) or they rushed their work (a common problem with indie authors) and/or they didn't think an editor's advice was worth it (Disagree.....) or they ignored the editor's advice and published as is.
And yes, I know people who've done that.
Reality fiction might deal with hard-hitting subjects... Sex. Divorce. Death. Abuse. Crime. Mental Illness. As an author you need to know how much to say... and when to say it.
|Over 300 reviews and a 4.7 rating. An unforgettable story that had to be told.|
Do you keep the reader in suspense?
Do you start out with a full confession?
And those variances are crucial to your story development. And remember that circumstances (like that monster storm) are a big part not only of your setting, but your character's character. What kind of character isn't gobsmacked by a horrific event? A shallow one.
If you're keeping the reader guessing, then subtle hints or over-the-top reactions help set the stage. An over-zealous reaction to a stranger's child pitching a fit in a store might have its roots in a past trauma. A lost child. An abused childhood. Inability to have a child.
When you tackle deep subjects, don't skim. Don't dwell. Walk the tightrope, keep your balance and don't be afraid to edit. Edit. Edit. And trust and editor and cut things when they hit you over the head with virtual white-out and say "enough already, darling. Move on."
The same holds true if you're writing diverse fiction, fiction with characters that aren't a carbon copy of you. If it's not an issue, don't make it one. (Corrie in "Her Cowboy Reunion", a sacrificial black surrogate mother to three white Steel Magnolias who raised them from infancy and stayed the course)...
But if it IS an issue, handle with care. (Kerry and Ben in The First Gift, when his mother disapproves their relationship)
The best writer you can be.
I've got a copy of the much awaited (SQUEAL IS REAL!!!!) "At Home in Wishing Bridge", book two of the Wishing Bridge series and it's going out to one of you!
Leave a comment or jump into the discussion... Agree? Or disagree?
I'm open to both!
firstname.lastname@example.org, visit her website ruthloganherne.com or follow her on Twitter @RuthLoganHerne.