How to Best Use the Real World to Enhance Your Stories
Use Real Relevant Details to Help Your Reader, Not Confuse Them
Details in stories should 100% be used as much as possible. Even in non-fiction, details help to clarify meaning and eliminate confusion.
Details can range from descriptions of a coffee cup a character uses or eye color to real facts. And it’s these facts I’d like to write about today. Facts from real life situate your story and help readers to place themselves into your story.
Facts like time period and location are basics that all stories should have. It helps to know that our hero lives and works in Los Angeles, for example and that the story takes place in 2022 or 1922 or even 2062 if you’re writing a futuristic story. Writers know instinctively that those details are needed and rarely fail to include them. After the basics, writers can get even more specific and name street names or buildings if they want. Sometimes that’s needed and other times it’s not.
Why Use Specific Details?
The details stated above are again, the basics. But you want to include more details, as many as possible. Writers sometimes feel that if they are too specific, readers will not be able to relate. I see this more with non-fiction writers. But the opposite is true. The more detailed and specific you are, the better the reader can place himself into your story and attach himself to the character. And you want that close identification.
Other Details to Include
Consider using facts from real life. Facts help, again, with situating the reader. The details become a reference point that the reader can attach himself to.
Other references to our world can be:
historical people like Thomas Jefferson
major historical dates like November 22, 1963 (Kennedy assassination)
holiday events such as the Rose Parade in Pasadena, CA. on New Years Day
iconic places like the Statue of Liberty
world events like World War II
specific items such as iPhones or brands like Apple.