Fact-based Fiction

Everyone loves to pick up an escapist novel and just drift away into a world of romance, intrigue, or mystery. This was especially true for me while working as a correspondent and anchor for CNN for more than two decades. I would always grab a paperback on my way through the airport. The more outrageously fictitious, the better. You see, I had quite a good dose of reality every day: bombings and school shootings, wars and financial ruin, natural disasters. I wanted fun and enjoyment in my reading. Here are a few rules I adhere to when I write my own romantic thrillers.

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kitty-pilgrimGuest post by Kitty Pilgrim, an award winning journalist and writer of international romantic mysteries. Her latest book is The Stolen Chalice. Meet Kitty Pilgrim at the Writer’s Digest West Conference in Los Angeles, September 27-29, 2013! Kitty will present “Telling Extraordinary Stories with Fact-Based Fiction.” The lineup of speakers is one of the best and the conference also includes the famous Writer’s Digest Pitch Slam, where you get one-on-one time with agents to pitch your ideas.

Register Now and Join Us >>

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Make your characters bigger than life.

My main female character is an oceanographer, my hero is an archaeologist. I believe most current fiction is aspirational.  I give the readers a glimpse of the glamorous life. What woman doesn’t want to race through a foreign destination with a handsome man, solving a mystery that will save the world? Especially when there is a full load of laundry to fold.

Make your villains quirky.

Who wants a boring bad guy? Everyone has boring bad guys in their life: the surly plumber, the nasty traffic cop, the hostile bank teller, the bored grocery store clerk. For your fantasy world to work, the bad guys and the good guys both have to have a lot of pizazz. Remember the exotic antagonists who went after James Bond?

Keep it real.

Include real facts in the plot line to ground the story. Add a bit of history, or a smidgen of science.  I actually interview real scientists and explorers for my books, to add interesting details so the reader can learn new information as they float through the action. I also travel to the locations in my books to be able to describe, food, ambiance, scenery to make the scene more vivid. Last year I went to Egypt, Scotland and Greece for locations for my books.

Sprinkle it with fairy dust.  

Remember the magical stories of your childhood? Wendy in Peter Pan flying out the window, or Alice having a real toe-to-toe debate with the White Queen. What child didn’t want to fly away with Peter, or have the spunk to stick up for her opinions with an authority figure? As adults we need our share of fairy dust. Make your heroes and heroines able to do extraordinary things. Allow them to have adventures you would fantasize about.  We all need to dream.  Why not with a book?

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