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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Author Insight: Believability (And the Huge Giveaway.)

What is the most important thing for you to “get right” in order to make your story believable?

"I'm constantly worrying about believability. And what I always end up telling myself is that it's my job as the writer to MAKE it believable. If I'm questioning whether a kid would *really* do that, guess what, I need to show WHY this particular kid WOULD do that. So I don't know that I can generalize, it's mostly about setting up the story and characters in a way that makes it work. YOU as the author, have to make it work (in the words of Tim Gunn)." - Lisa Schroeder, author of Chasing Brooklyn.

"The characters. If the characters seem like cardboard cut-outs, the entire book doesn't work, regardless of how awesome my plot is." - Steph Bowe, author of Girl Saves Boy.

"The emotions. Killing off a character to make people cry is crap. Killing off a character because it was absolutely necessary to the story, and oh, my God, it's SO SAD is the way to go. " - Suzanne Young, author of The Naughty List.

"A character that is interesting and believable. If the character isn't right I don't think the story works." - Alexandra Diaz, author of Of All the Stupid Things.

"Characterization. If you believe in my character, you'll follow her anywhere." - Tessa Gratton, author of Blood Magic.

"The voice of the characters. Even the secondary characters. Right now in my WIP, I have three characters who feel interchangeable. I'm trying to figure them out and make them distinct." - Shari Maurer, author of Change of Heart.


"Voice and character – to me – are the foundation of every story. If I don’t have those details spot on, nothing will work. It’s when I get those down that everything starts to flow." - Kristina McBride, author of The Tension of Opposites.

"The emotion, I suppose. I try to get everything right, every detail, but I notice that as a reader I will forgive a small slip in literal details if the story seems emotionally true." - Jennifer Hubbard, author of The Secret Year.

"Environmental details" - Bonnie Doerr, author of Island Sting.

"Character motivation. You can whack together the most unbelievable plotline with fantastic and outrageous characters in a setting that's on the moon, but I have to believe (if not understand) why a character makes the decisions they do." - Lisa Mantchev, author of the Theater Illuminata series.

"The most important thing for me to “get right” is to make sure that my characters are relatable and that they are honest representations of the way that kids/teenagers would actually react to a situation. If the reader can’t relate to the characters, there’s no way he or she will be able to believe the story." - Riley Carney, author of The Fire Stone.

"The little details that bring something to life, whether it is the eerie, surreal-ness of the Nevernever, or an arrogant tail wave from Grimalkin. Details are everything to me." - Julie Kagawa, author of The Iron King.

"The characters. Nothing else follows if I don't know the main character - and the antagonist." - Janet Fox, author of  Faithful.

"I’m not sure I spend much time trying to make the story believable. I do work hard to make the characters sympathetic and their journeys compelling." - Jessica Leader, author of Nice and Mean.

"It's all the most important thing. You can't believe that anything is good enough in writing- people land on good enough like flies on potato salad. You've got to go in there and make every single thing as real as you can- and realize that you'll still fall short. Every book is a chance to do it a little better than last time.eeps me focused, and I have to get up too much if I drink water exclusively." - Saundra Mitchell, author of Shadowed Summer.

"The character development. People are rarely black or white. We're all shades of gray, and for me, no story can be believable without characters that reflect the truly conflicted nature of most human beings." - Michelle Zink, author of Prophecy of Sisters.

"That people can see something admirable in each of the characters, even if it's someone that they despise. (I'm a big believer that the things we hate most about another person are often the things we hate most about ourselves.) Resonance with the characters is key." - Dawn Metcalf, author of Skin & Bones.

"Probably the world that they inhabit. In writing a story like BRIGHTLY WOVEN, a fantasy set in another world, characterization and worldbuilding often go hand in hand. I’ve found that it’s often the case that a character’s actions and beliefs can only be understood in the context of the world they were raised in and inhabit, so if that world is underdeveloped, the character will be as well. " - Alexandrea Bracken, author of Brightly Woven.

Come back Thursday to find out what the rest of the authors think makes a story believable!
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(U.S./Canda Only)

Two prize packs chock-full of goodies from the authors are up for grabs!  Take a look at what's inside...

Prize Pack #1 
-Tons of swag, signed and not.
- ARC of The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting
- signed hardback of Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
-ARC of Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

- signed paperback of The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa

Prize Pack #2
- Tons of swag, signed and not.
- ARC of Mistwood by Leah Cypess
- signed hardback of The Secret Year by Jennifer Hubbard.
- paperback of Far From You by Lisa Schroeder
- ARC of The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff


  1. Great giveaway! Thanks!

  2. *pokes screen* Look at all those prizes! And I noticed Steph Bowe on this post, yep. Great books you have there.

  3. Wow! I would love either of these prizes. Thanks for the giveaway!

  4. I love these posts so much. Thanks for the giveaway!

  5. Great post and AWESOME giveaway! :) Thanks! But when does it end??

  6. The majority of authors say it's the characters...hmmm, I think that will help! I've bookmarked this page so I can look back on author advice for my own novel. Thank you for posting in such an organized way! And thanks for the ginourmous giveaway, I'm crossing my fingers!

  7. Great post! I think dialogue is very important and I find is getting to be somewhat lacking lately. I don't know, it's like some authors aren't living in the real world anymore.

    Awesome giveaway!!

  8. thanks for the giveaway!!

  9. Love the post, love the giveaway! Thanks!! :)

  10. I absolutely loved this post. Love the insight from the authors, and love the way it's organized! Thank you for the amazing and generous giveaway! :)

  11. Whenever I'm reading or writing, I'm always focused on the characters. If I don't feel like these characters are real, I can't get into the book. Great post, and thanks for the giveaway!

  12. Amazing giveaway!! Thank you so much!

  13. awesome prizes -- thanks for giving us all the chance to win them.

  14. Thanks for the awesome giveaway.

  15. It seems like almost everyone said characters. I also think the is the most important thing. If I don't relate to a character I could care less about them.

  16. Awesome giveaway! Thanks :]

  17. Wow! Great prizes! Thanks for this one!

  18. Drooling!
    Congrats on over 800 followers. I'm # 804

  19. Wow. This is better than playing the lottery--I might actually win!

  20. The author insight posts are fantastic! Such a wonderful contest and I'm so glad I found your blog!