Alida, Kathryn, and Robert discuss the process of introducing readers to new worlds and new experiences by making the strange comfortable enough to get reader’s buy in. Every step of the story’s way, writers need readers to nod yes in agreement. If a reader pulls back, because something seems implausible or just too out there, the reader is probably lost. We approach the topic from our usual experience with literature and film as well as our writing lives. With historical, fantasy, and science fiction in the house, we cover a lot of ways the unfamiliar has to be and can be made familiar. And if you don’t what a cale is, listen and learn!







What does it mean to make the unfamiliar familiar? And what parts of your story does that apply to? What is our rule of thumb and why would you want to break it? How should you approach culture? And how often should you touch on new things? Don’t forget, your unique things are what hook the reader!

What we talked about:

What do we mean by making the unfamiliar familiar? (0:20)

How should you introduce the reader to the character/world/premise of your story? (3:38)

All fiction writing is made up, so how can you make it familiar not only to your reader, but to you the writer? (5:09)

The importance of mixing the unfamiliar with the familiar. (6:48)

How do language and word choice effect familiarity? (11:05)

Where is the balance between authenticity and readability in historical fiction? (12:55)

Our Rule of Thumb for Familiarity. (14:07)

What is the difference between historical and the science fiction/fantasy? (14:43)

Does the fantasy genre have familiarity built in? (15:50)

How familiar should you be with your subject matter? (16:39)

But the unique and unfamiliar things are very important! (18:22)

What about cultures? (20:00)

How often should you touch on new things? (25:00)

How can you introduce the unfamiliar when it’s not unfamiliar to your protagonist? (28:58)

Bottom Line: it’s all about finding the universal elements and writing a good story! (35:22)



Things we mentioned:

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Stories of Your Life by Ted Chang
Rogue One
Enders Game by Orson Scott Card
Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Want more about these topics? Check out:

SWRT 006 Genre Series: Science Fiction with Chris Fox 
SWRT 10: Write What You Know
60 Second Tip: POV Stranglehold 

Have thoughts, questions, other examples? Join the conversation at the Story Works Writers Facebook group. 

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