Thursday, November 20, 2008

Believe It

“Readers of fiction want very much to find the writer's work to be believable.” -- James A. Janke in Fiction Writing Tips
Believability has many flavors -- plot, setting and characters come to mind. I submitted a story and received feedback that the mother in the story wasn’t believable. The editor knew other women in my character’s situation, and none of them acted the way she did. I had a snappy comeback, but decided to keep it to myself in case I wanted to submit another story to that publication. Still, the comment irked me. I let it swim laps in my brain for a couple of days and finally realized the editor was correct. I envisioned the mother as a psychotic. I researched the disease and compiled a list of symptoms. The problem was I included too many in the story. The mother’s symptoms were real, but not believable. I forgot that most people (yes, editors are people, too) wouldn’t know all the symptoms exhibited by a psychotic personality. When the mother reverted to childish behaviors, the editor didn’t know this was caused by the disease. I toned down that section, submitted the story elsewhere and it was accepted for publication.

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