Characters in many genres, especially Fantasy and Historical Fiction, often travel by foot. Especially when time is part of the conflict, the author must have a clear idea of exactly how far apart everything is and how long it takes to get from one place to the next.
Note that many authors ignore this kind of detail completely. In many Fantasies, actual distances are never mentioned. However, it is useful for purposes of veracity and suspense to be able to use the time factor. Personally, I spend hours with maps and a calculator on all my books. Which is why I am passing this information on to you. Continue reading “Getting it Right: Time and Distance on Foot and Horse”
And why detectives need to be careful writing Detective Fiction, etcetera. Experts tend to fill their novels with esoteric information that gets in the way of the story, so choose your atmospheric/tech descriptions wisely.
Okay, Isaac Asimov had a PhD in Biochemistry. He was a genius. But I think it is safe to assume that you’re not. And if you are, you shouldn’t be listening to me anyway. Go away and create a brave new genre, and leave us plods in the dust trying to explain why you are so successful.
Asimov’s genius was in using his scientific background to make his Sci-Fi believable, but not letting it become the be-all and end-all of his work.
That is the bane of science fiction writers. So many of them think that they can create all sorts of verisimilitude by having wonderfully accurate science in their stories. And they are wrong. Because what the vast majority of people want is good stories. They couldn’t care less about the science. Readers want realistic characters, not realistic science.
Two ingredients are essential for writing a successful novel: good writing and knowledge of the subject matter. Just as a murder mystery reads better when the detective work and forensics reflect true life, so is it with national security thrillers. These include spy, political and military thrillers.
Verisimilitude: Separating the Plausible from the B.S.
What separates the outstanding national security thrillers from the rest of the pack is verisimilitude: creating characters, situations and plots that closely resemble the real thing. The worst thrillers are the ones where the author simply fabricates how a spy/political actor/soldier operates. That is not to say that the latter don’t become bestsellers. They often do. The authors of thrillers lacking in verisimilitude succeed by spinning a good yarn for which readers are willing to suspend big-time disbelief. Ian Fleming’s James Bond is a case in point. Wonderful entertainment. Totally divorced from the real world. Continue reading “Writing the National Security Thriller: Verisimilitude by James Bruno”