Is Your Plot Believable?

You’re building a world entirely from your own imagination. But you must base your fiction on the real world to reach the hearts and minds of readers.

Weaving an unquestioningly believable plot is tough. You never want a reader to think, I don’t buy that or Too many coincidences. To create believability, write scenes that are probable, possible, and plausible.

Probable: Likely; more evidence for than against

Probable events raise no flags and the reader continues without doubt. As long as they make sense within your story, there is no limit to the number of probable events you can use.

Possible: May or can be; chance

More than a few possible events, especially at the beginning, signal the reader your story is contrived.

Plausible: Seemingly worthy of approval or acceptance

What if you need a possible circumstance to become probable for the sake of your story? You make it plausible. Like a lawyer, you show evidence—and you do so without fanfare.

In my current manuscript, I needed someone to die of the plague. But this couldn’t come out of the blue, so early on I mentioned that the plague had been on the increase. I even had a minor character die of the plague.

Later, when I killed someone off by plague, I’d already made it plausible.

Photo: Sandra ByrdSandra Byrd, a longtime Guild mentor, is the bestselling author of more than three dozen books, among them Christy Award and ECPA Gold Medallion finalists. Visit her website.

React: How can you make your plot more believable? Share an example.


  1. says

    I think that who the audience is needs to be considered. While the deus ex machina mentality is passe’ even among discerning Christian readers, they might be more willing to accept the less possible (as long as it’s something that God would be willing to do).

  2. Emma P. says

    Great post! I can definitely see the importance of creating a story both believable circumstances and characters. But I was wondering, how would you create a Christian fiction with a fantasy or Sci-Fi plot that is a little less realistic at the current time while also making the story believable and probable?

    • says

      Hi Emma,

      Good question! You just have to set the parameters, rules, and expectation for the world you are building, and then make sure that the circumstances and actions you create fit within that paradigm.


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