Recently had a discussion with a fellow associate. We talked about a lot of things, but this was one thing that kept rolling around the space in my skull. The number one thing you can do for a reader is keeping your story rooted in reality. Suspension of disbelief is the key to keeping someone in on your fiction. If you push them too far out of the realm of possibility too fast without anchoring them to the world you built, they check out.
That’s why world-building is so important, even when telling a story set in this world. If you’re going to make a miracle or have aliens show up at your local Publix, it needs to hold to the reality that you established with every word before it.
I am happy as a writer that I’m not writing fantasy or science fiction. Writing a world from scratch has so many challenges. You have carte blanche with what you can do, but you have to keep the rules of that universe in mind with every situation and incident. I find it hard to keep track of character names, let alone the gravitational pull of a planet, the limitations of a space ship, the metallurgy of a world’s weaponry, the dragons eye colors, or how magic works. It’s a tall task.
When setting up the world of your characters, you have to keep your characters in that world. They have to fit, and it can’t seem novel to them. As much as the world needs to seem real to the audience, your characters need it to be authentic to them as well. Then the way your character acts inside that universe needs to ring true to the reader.
If you want folks to stay interested, the story needs the anchor of reality, and you can’t just change the rules of the world to fit the story. Everything needs to stay rooted in fact, the truth you created, but a reality none the less.
How do you keep things rooted in reality?