Credible Writing

Suspense/Thriller Writers is a group on Facebook which I visit quite frequently. It has interesting posts and interesting people, most of them keen on making a name in this genre of writing. Pat Bertram provoked thought with a recent post, as she does from time to time so effectively.

She said we know the  Big Five C’s in writing, which are:-

  • Character
  • Conflict
  • Change
  • Contrast (contrast in settings, between characters, in dialogue)
  • Caring (what the character cares for, and making the reader care for the character)

We were asked to add to the list of “Cs” which make effective writing. My instinctive reaction was to add “C for Credibility”. This was top most on my mind for two reasons. The first is that I just finished a novel by a major best-selling author, who shall remain unnamed for the present. The book got off to a great start but left me disappointed at the end. I didn’t find it gripping enough. On reflection, I realized that what the protagonist was doing was totally incredible. He was superman personified and this was a huge let down for me. Have you felt the same any time?

The second reason and perhaps what strikes me even more is that as a writer myself, I am very conscious of making both my plots and my characters very credible. People should relate easily to them and feel the story is believable. If the plot or the characters are outlandish by far  they will be disappointed. You want them to think of the characters as people they have known, seen or heard about.

To me, therefore, credibility is a hallmark of a good writer. To be successful,  within the norms expected of the genre you write in, your plot and characters have to be credible.

One thought on “Credible Writing

  1. I am thrilled that my question evoked a blog topic. You are absolutely correct — credibility is high on the list. Even fantasy and science fiction has to be credible — we have to be able to believe that those characters acted that way in that place. If we can’t believe, then the story has no real meaning for us, and if it has no meaning, why read it?

    For me, what’s even worse than the hero who can do everything is the hero who has been purposely given flaws in a mistaken belief that flaws make a character credible. Such flaws often make the character even less credible. Credibility makes characters credible. Truth makes characters credible.

    Good post!

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