Okay, not real so much as believable. Fiction has to be believable at some level or the reader won’t be interested. Readers tell me my characters are believable. When I ask some questions it comes out that readers feel (empathize) with the characters.
Great! Excellent! Yowza!
Ask a few more questions and readers tell me they can relate to the characters.
Again, Great! Excellent! Yowza!
Being a researcher, I ask more questions. Readers tell me my fiction seems real to them and it comes down to six things I didn’t realize I do:
- My stories are easy to understand – I write about people, not about technology. I’m not an Hard SF author (makes it easy to not write about technology). I enjoy some Hard SF, not much. Hard SF well done is basically a logic puzzle and I enjoy solving puzzles, so there you go.
But I write about people. Technology may serve a plot point and most often I use it to reveal character than move the story forward.
The end result is readers don’t have to be technically adept to enjoy my stories, hence they’re easy to understand.
- I do unexpected things in my stories – This, I admit, is one of the most fun comments I receive from readers. Even Susan (who’s been reading my stories for 40+ years) says I still catch her by surprise even though she’s use to how I write and what to expect in a given story.
So even loyal fans get a pleasant thrill when reading my work. Some tell me they read just to get the surprise. They still finish the story, but the surprise makes it all the better. Like a box of CrackerJackTM, I guess. You finish the caramel coated popcorn and peanuts even though you took a moment to open the prize inside.
- My stories are simple – I use simple language (except when describing technology or expertise. Then I use jargon and buzzwords) and the story’s message (if any) is plain, obvious, easy to understand and apply to their own lives.
When readers tell you your stories touched them, moved them, made them think, anything like that, it’s a win.
- My stories are always based on some truths – Thank god I hope so and yes. Simple truths. Don’t hurt people, for example. A simple truth. Be kind, another truth. To me these are truths. Evidently such truths attract a specific kind of audience.
Would a bigger audience be better? Sure!
But not if I have to give up truths to do it.
- Readers feel something reading my stories – Thank god I hope so and yes, again. I’ve said many times such is my goal. I want my readers to respond emotionally. That’s how I know they’ve shut out the world and entered into the story’s world.
Bravo to me, there.
- You tell a good story – okay. This one, to me, is whimsical: I love your stories because you tell a good story.
To me that’s kind of like saying, “I’m only eating it because it tastes so good.” Well, I certainly hope you’re not eating it because it sucks! What are you, some kind of penitent?
Here’s to hoping I continue to tell good stories.
And please do comment directly on the stories I share. I love receiving emails and DMs, and comments are your opportunity to let the world know what you think.