Realism in Writing: even contemporary romance novels should be believable

posted in: Various Musings | 0

Originally posted on March 30, 2012

I’m furiously writing the next Nicki book (Innocent Bystander [republished in 2020 as Bad News First]). It is already as long as most other Nicki books, but there’s still a lot of story left. Needless to say, readers will get more bang for their buck with this installment!

But that’s not what I wanted to talk about right now. Instead, I wanted to talk a little about realism in writing. Sometimes what I write takes a lot longer to compose because I’m striving for realism. So, if I don’t know something, I’ll do research. This week I not only did a lot of research online, but I even made some phone calls. Yesterday, for example, I called my local driver’s license office to confirm details I’d found online (and I’m glad I did, because while the facts I found online were technically correct, there were details I needed to clarify, and websites aren’t very vocal when it comes to answering questions).

If I wanted to write something purely fantastic, this sort of detail, this type of research wouldn’t really matter. And I’ve read stories where the writer dismisses details like those. Sometimes it matters to me as a reader; other times, it doesn’t. But I can tell you this much: I strive to make the scenarios I write about as realistic as possible. I don’t want someone to read one of my stories and think, “Oh, this is bulls***” and throw their Kindle down in disgust. Because, let’s face it–quite a few of the scenarios I introduce push the envelope of believability, so if I were to throw all realism out the window, I suspect a good many of you would give up on me entirely.

For instance, one reader wondered why Nicki has pined over Sean for so many years. She thought (and reasonably so, I might add) that it pushed the boundaries for Nicki to stay smitten for so long. So I had to clarify Nicki’s point of view. A good chunk of Lost [republished in 2020 as Breaking News] was dedicated to that premise. But sometimes it’s those sort of things you might be willing to overlook, as long as there’s a level of credibility with everything else.

But what if I’d completely screwed up the facts in Dead [republished in 2020 as Bad News Travels Fast]? That was another one that had me conducting a lot of research. I had to research toxicology, drugs, and diabetes (although I knew a little about one of these subjects, I am no expert). I did other research too involving local politics and elections. There was other research I did (and often do just to get little details right), but it simply drives my point home. I feel that a story, a scenario, and/or as many details as possible should be as believable as possible, because if they aren’t, we’re not going to stick with the story. As a reader, we might feel like the set up of the love triangle pushes the boundaries, but if the other details feel right, we’ll go along for the ride. If the details are wrong, though, you’re going to lose us.

So…sometimes my books will take longer to publish, but I promise you, the wait is worth it. In this instance, I’m making Nicki’s adventures as believable as possible. And I’m doing it so you’ll enjoy the entire ride.

Oh…and…possible SPOILER ALERT: This is not only going to be the longest Nicki book yet (and by far), it’s also going to be the sexiest! I’ve written the first two sex scenes, and there are at least four more to come (ahem…so to speak). So hold on tight! I’m hoping to make the wait well worth it!

UPDATE 3/16/24: The Nicki Sosebee series is still one of my favorites. Nicki is a free spirit, headstrong and fun!

Even today, I focus on realism in my writing, even if it means I have to conduct extensive research. One of the things that ruins my enjoyment of a story–whether it’s a romance novel or a dramatic television show–is unbelievability, so I feel it’s important to make sure what I write fits the bill!

Have you read the Nicki Sosebee series yet? If you love my writing, I’m sure you’ll love Nicki’s adventures!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.