Why You Need Realism Within Your Fiction Writing

How do you use realism in your fiction?  This question is especially important to Fantasy and Sci-fi writers.  Fiction is a fabrication, not the reality or truth we know.  Fantasy or sci-fi fiction is considered the fantastical, often unbelievable. 

But that doesn’t mean that realism needs to get flung out the window.  In fact, it can be the foundation we build our story upon.

Why You Need Realism In Your Fiction Writing | AriMeghlen.co.uk. Image of a book with a world

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A Sprinkle of Realism

When I say reality, I also mean experience.  If you are writing fantasy, it doesn’t have to be so outlandish that every part of it is so far removed from actual reality.

We need reality, realism to write fiction.  Sure, maybe we don’t know what it’s like to be facing a dragon that is hellbent on turning you into crispy bacon, but we can know fear.  Deep in the bones, fear.  Even if you must go back to moments in your childhood.

Maybe we’ve never trudged across a vast icy tundra fleeing for our lives, but when was the last time you felt at your coldest?

Good writing allows us to take slices of reality and merge them into our fantasy.  The experiences we go through, can help to pull in the reader.

Take The Reader Along

We write our stories for ourselves, because we want to tell the tale that plays in our heads.  But many of us, want to get published and take readers along too.  We want others to read our work, fall in love with our characters, cheer for them, boo at them all the way through.

So, to do that, we have to take the reader along with us.  The best way to do that is with experience, with realism that the readers can relate to.  That pulls them deeper into the story.

Maybe we haven’t been so utterly betrayed by someone that our life is now at risk.  But many of us will have felt the sting of betrayal.  Even something small, like a broken promise when you were a child.  One that you still remember to this day.  The crushing disappointment as something you had been expecting, promised failed to materialise.

We keep these memories, (we keep all memories, in fact) and emotions are tied to memories.  Reading something, where the author has put in the realism of their own feelings, their own experiences through the emotions of the characters can awaken our own.

Strong descriptive writing can make us feel the chill of ice on the character’s skin.  Can feel the heartbreak of loss so deeply that we may even shed tears ourselves.

Aim High & Dig Deep

Detailed characters, strong descriptions, well-paced stories and enjoyable prose can make for a good story.  But don’t forget to really dig deep into yourself while you write and aim to make your writing immersive.

That personal experience, that realism that you weave throughout your tale will resonate with the readers.  Humans are complex beings and we can sympathise and empathise with others, even fictional characters.  We can relate and put ourselves in those places, feel those things.

If you want to affect a reader deeply, then dig deep into yourself when you are writing about certain topics, while you fill your characters with those feelings and force them to experience those situations.

You may not have personally gone through exactly what you are writing them into, but there will be trickles of reality within.  So, focus on those as you write, step back and consider how you felt during that time of fear, that time of great joy or sorrow or wonder.

We often write like this naturally, but I am talking about taking some time – to consciously think about these times in your life, these experiences, feel them, consider them more carefully and then go back to the writing and weave in the detail.

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I like to highlight areas within my manuscript where I want to put more feeling, more emotion that can really pull at the reader.  I make sure to go back over these in what I call The Emotional Edit.  To make sure the scene feels stronger and deeper.

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Happy writing & stay safe

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tiny-ko-fi_icon_rgb_strokeI write articles on writing, marketing, blogging, organising, social media, books and some random stuff.  I also create free printable resources.  If you find my content helpful, entertaining and like what I do, consider supporting me on ko-fi (where you will also find extra content I post).  All donations go to keeping my website running and helping me move towards publishing my novels.

15 thoughts on “Why You Need Realism Within Your Fiction Writing

  1. Great tips.
    “The best way to do that is with experience, with realism that the readers can relate to.” This. I think that’s exactly why fantasy and sci-fi are my least favorite genres; I just cannot connect with those… they’re too foreign and I feel excluded from the cool kids club all over again.

      1. Mysteries are great! I enjoy them, my fave is definitely fantasy (both urban and trad) and I like crime/police procedural.

  2. Excellent topic and tips, Ari! And I love the sound of an Emotional Edit. That’s something I certainly need to start working on with my current edits. Thanks for the reminder and inspiration.

    1. Glad you found it useful, Kate. I have to remind myself of thins like Emotional Edit – if I don’t have it on a post-it on my desk, I don’t remember to do it! lol

  3. Such good points! I know the people I know who don’t read any genre fiction, especially fantasy and sci-fi, say they think the ideas are too outlandish to get into it. I always tell them that the best speculative fiction still feels accessible and universal because good speculative fiction is based on things we all relate to like emotions. You said it way better!

  4. Awesome tips! The title pulled me right in and I found the points you made about the importance of realism helpful; after all, the right balance of reality in fiction makes the story more relatable. 🙂

    1. Thanks so much, Jaya. Glad you found it useful. 🙂 I think that is what writers need to aim for – relatability. That will always be the key for pulling readers in.

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