The Differences Between Writing and Reality

A followup to a followup. If I nest these any more I’ll have to start looking for twigs.

Obviously there’s a lot of these (I desperately hope that’s obvious…), so I’m not going to cover everything. Just the ones that crop up most often for me and have nothing to do with science which actually annoys me enough to be its own massive rant…maybe someday.




  • Dialogue in stories is nothing like realistic dialogue: people have a tendency to stretch out letters and use more colloquialisms, plus all those ‘ums,’ ‘ehs,’ ‘likes,’ and other consequences of not having the ability to edit out the random bits. Writing dialogue has to be approached like anything else with a story: it has to have a purpose. It’s contrived as hell, but make it look natural by having people do stuff in between. Also, not overusing either ‘said’ or one of its myriad alternatives.
  • Characters.

  • I believe I’ve mentioned this before–I see fictional characters as opportunities to distill a particular aspect of humanity and exaggerated it (within limits, of course, but still). Then, of course, I pit them against each other because conflict is way more interesting to read about.
  • Plot.

  • This goes for nonfiction as well: no one wants to read a story that ends ‘And then tomorrow came.’ Life keeps going, it’s not very well timed. People want some kind of climax and catharsis in varying doses, but they don’t want mundanity.
  • Word choice.

  • Well, in comparison to what we learn in English class…it’s better to write books like you’re talking (yes, the preview of my own work posted is how I talk), for the simple reason of ‘narrative.’

That’s all I can think of for now. Feel free to make suggestions.


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