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The Kernel of Truth in Creative Writing

By: Angelique Caffrey - Updated: 30 Apr 2013 | comments*Discuss
Creative Writing; Creative Writer;

No matter what kind of creative writing work you choose to author – a poem, a screenplay, a children’s book, or a short story – it will need to contain a kernel of truth. Even if your piece is a highly imaginative science fiction work, there needs to be something within it that resonates with readers.

To make certain that your next creative writing piece contains enough “truth” to add plausibility to the situations you’ve invented, ask yourself the following questions after finishing each section (or the entire work if it’s quite succinct):

Do my characters act in a believable, recognisable fashion?

All the creatures you invent, even those which are inhuman (such as talking dogs and cats or singing trees) must exhibit personality traits which are recognisable to the reader and consistent within the context of your work. For example, even a character as silly and inventive as a doctor who is a horse in a children’s book must have a well-rounded persona.

If you’re not sure the personalities in your creative writing work are credible and “fleshed out”, consider taking some time to focus on their character development. You may even want to write a short “biography” about each main character as something you can refer to later. Include where the character was born, what he or she likes to do for fun, a general personality profile of likes/dislikes and even such personality indicators as favorite books or popular tunes.

Though you may never directly use this biography information in your novel, poem, or play, it will infuse your writings with characters which practically “pop” off the pages.

Are the situations in my creative work reasonable?

Even in a science fiction short story set on a planet far from earth, the situations and characters you create need to operate on a level that’s familiar to your readers. In fact, many science fiction writers borrow heavily from humanity’s history when writing about wars, civilizations, parent-child relationships, and culture. Even when such authors invent new societies, they are essentially either implicitly comparing or contrasting them to a past or present society or occurrence that will be familiar to their audience.

It’s this recognisable strand woven throughout a creative writing piece that keeps the readers’ minds engaged.

Will my piece generate discussion, contemplation, or even controversy?

This could be a difficult question for you as an author to answer; consequently, you may want to ask a trusted friend or family member to read your work and give you some feedback.

It’s quite important that your work be something “to talk about”; otherwise, it won’t be passed from reader to reader (or, in the case of movies, TV shows, or plays, seen by large numbers of people.)

Without some “kernel of truth” in your work, it will be difficult for your readers to explain or express their feelings about your piece because they may not be able to relate it to anything they know. This is yet another critical reason to be certain that your work is “based” on something, perhaps a personal experience or one you simply read about in your local paper or a human trait, such as jealousy or passion.

But don’t worry… it’s all easier than you think!

As a creative writer, you are probably already implementing this method of ensuring that your works have a continuity and a realism; however, by being aware of this technique, you’ll be able to produce stronger, more compelling, writings.

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