Storylines flow well and seem as though they could really happen when writers are totally engaged with their settings, characters, and conflicts. If a story is to be credible, it needs to be real, consistent, probable, and fit accurately within the time frame.
Making a Story Real
Writing a story that is “real” does not eliminate the writing of fantasy. It simply means that the story creates the sensation of being real, even if it takes place in an imaginary place.
Keeping Facts Consistent
It is difficult to take a story seriously if things previously established as facts suddenly change. In one novel I read, the color of a young lady’s beautiful ball gown changed mid-chapter. When authors picture scenes in their minds, this kind of switch is unlikely. (Maybe colorblind authors would have to write about black ball gowns.)
In a story I read last fall, the gender of a new baby changed from one chapter to the next. I read both chapters a second time to be sure I had not misread. I hadn’t. A baby girl had changed into a baby boy. My advice is: Don’t change anything in the story without going back and correcting previous related information. Edit, edit, edit!
Recently, I read, “…a bell clamored so loud it almost knocked her over.” Hyperbole? At least gross exaggeration. (Never mind that I wanted to change ”loud,” to “loudly.”)
In a different novel, I read, “Luca points a stern finger into the dogs eyes…” Ouch! That dog really needed to bite Luca’s stern finger.
Writing with accuracy is important, and the basis for accuracy is research. Authors need to understand the time periods and regions about which they write. They should also have knowledge of local history, indigenous events, and the unique culture of the area.
A reader challenged me concerning the size of the 1930’s Southeastern Colorado town in my story. Historical documents had already informed me that the town I used as a model, although unnamed in the story, was at that time a thriving community with over 5,000 people. The population of that same town is now less than 200.
Know the facts of your story well enough that you can meet a challenge.
A final thought: Always strive for excellence.