Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Writing question, everyone chime in!

So when you are writing about something that may or may not be realistic, how do you make it seem as though it is?  How do you make the world seem absolutely true and real? 

8 comments:

Jeff Lyons said...

C:

I'm telling you something you already know (and do), but for me it starts and ends with the characters. They have to be real (meaning they're motivated, have a real problem, want something, etc.) The world around them is all gravy. It'll be real if the people in it are real.

But, this is of no help because you already do this in your books. :)

J

Emily said...

Hi, Caroline!

I think what I try to do is find the odd, telling detail about the situation that brings things to life (and often in a not very conclusive way). I always think of an interview I read somewhere with Ann Beattie where she laments some "too perfect" stories she reads where two characters are having an argument but it's all too neatly wrapped up. She asks (I paraphrase), what if the window's open and a bird flies into the room, right in the heat of the moment?

I take it to mean that what's realistic is often messy, unfinished, unpredictable...

Emily

Clea Simon said...

Oh lord, you're better at this than I am! I think fo rme, it's a question of not overwriting. Don't try to sell. Just accept it as real and go from there. How do the characters see this, because it's real to them?

Gaylen said...

This is such a surprising question because when I read "Living Other Lives," I thought the characters and settings were incredibly realistic. Each character had a separate painful situation to cope with and somehow their physical settings reflected this for me. Maybe your new book is like this, too, and you don't even know it? But for me, when I write (ha!), I start out backwards and research the setting first. I need a definite place that I know by heart. It becomes a comfortable place for me, like buying the perfect house and then moving everyone else into it. I do a lot of research -- pictures, articles. Maybe that's all a ruse -- who knows?

Caroline said...

I think my problem is that I am having realistic and practical minded characters in a situation that is almost magical realism and I am panicked that I cannot pull it off. I can't talk about the novel here because it is too new and I am superstitious and this is too public a forum, even though I bare my soul here, but it's an idea I have been wanting to do for so long and I am wondering if I am not the writer to do it, or if I am just frightened to proceed.

Katharine Weber said...

It's all in the voice.

Caroline said...

Katharine, that is brilliant advice. Things just unlocked. Thank you a million times.

Katharine Weber said...

You're welcome, but really, I tell you things you secretly already know, and then you know them!