If you want to make your creative writing more realistic, there are a number of options at your disposal. Today, we’re just going to focus on one of them though, and it starts with noticing the realism all around you.
While there are many areas where creative writing differs from reality – usually in subtle ways, but sometimes quite drastically – stories are supposed to have a believable feel. They’re meant for readers to immerse themselves in, and it’s kinda hard to get immersed when the elements being read don’t make sense.
Creative writing should never make someone go, “Yeah, like that would happen” or “She wouldn’t do that” or “Really? I don’t think so.”
To avoid such capital writing crimes, notice what actually does happen, what “she” (or he) would do, and what otherwise really does goes on in life. Your life included.
Truth is, there are tons and tons and tons of everyday experiences you can choose from to throw into your creative writing, from stubbed toes to a random stranger’s smile in the grocery store to the taste of good Kombucha – which, incidentally, I’m now obsessed with.
Hence the reason my likelihood of dying a pauper is up significantly.
That stuff is expensive!
Believe it or not though, even that observation right there can nudge creative writing in a realistic direction. It’s not like you have to pepper every page with random details about Kombucha, but consider this story snippet:
Bleary eyed, Nasir opened up the fridge to reveal last night’s takeout, a carton of eggs, some cheddar cheese and three bottles of Kombucha. Always Kombucha. Even two years after Fari’s death, he still couldn’t stop buying her stupid favorite drink.
Some people had a drug problem that ate away their finances. He had fermented tea.
That sounds like real life right there: the habit of hanging onto something as a reminder of someone lost.
Or, far less depressingly, consider my house – which, like most western-world homes, has a bathroom. And in this bathroom is a bathtub from which hangs a shower curtain. A two-piece shower curtain, to be precise, with an idyllic beach scene that dangles down the outside of the tub and a clear sheet that hangs inside.
That clear sheet just so happens to have three little black discs sown into its hem to keep it weighted. One on the right side. One on the left. One in the middle.
Nothing ominous about that whatsoever.
However, the one on the left takes a terrifying turn about three times a year for me. Because I have really bad vision. And short curly hair.
Let me explain.
In order to have any prayer of taming my locks in the morning, I have to wet them. And since I don’t take an actual shower every day (who has time for that?), I just stand over the tub and use the detachable shower head to drench my hair. This means I’m staring right down at the inside shower curtain pushed off to the side.
In and of itself, this wouldn’t be a panic-attack-inducing problem. But I also have to wear contacts because my natural eyesight is atrocious. And I like to put my contacts in after I wet and scrunch my hair with gel. So I’m therefore quite blurry-eyed as I’m staring right down at the inside shower curtain pushed off to the side.
Inevitably, as I’m straightening up to grab my hair towel, I’ll brush against said shower curtain, making it move, including those little black discs sown into the hem. Which, given the right angle, can look just like big black spiders when you have terrible vision and no contacts in.
I swear, I’ve nearly had a heart attack trying to get away from those alleged arachnids. It’s quite pathetic, particularly when it’s happened more than once.
In the moment, it’s not a fun experience. But written out right, it could make a great scene in a chick-lit book or to start out a character’s bad day in many other genres.
While almost nobody else is going to be able to exactly empathize with this non-spider experience since almost nobody else is so pathetic as to have it, it’s still believable. Why? Because everyone else has had moments of sheer stupidity and mistaken identity.
So here’s a little writing assignment for you: Take just one hour and pay attention to what you do and how you do it. Then see if you can fit any of that real life into your creative writing to make it more realistic.
(Want to continue on in this series? Click right here for Part 2.)