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.
Sandra 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.