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Realistic fiction is one of the most popular literary genres available. Why? Because people find real world situations relatable and, in turn, resonate with the characters.

But how can a beginner start their journey to writing amazing contemporary realistic fiction books?

The below are four awesome tips to get you started:

  1. Choose a contemporary setting

A realistic fiction novel should be set now or in the recent past. They should tackle contemporary issues that affect a majority of people in some way. Take, for example, Matthew Quick’s The Silver Linings Playbook.

Many people will recognise the title for its Hollywood adaptation, but before it was a fantastic film starring BradleyCooper and Jennifer Lawrence it was a contemporary fiction novel about mental illness.

The Silver Linings Playbook is a prime example of a current, important topic covered in literary form, making it relatable to many readers and, in turn, a Hollywood favourite.

  1. The events should be believable

Because, after all, the genre is “realistic fiction” and not “fantasy”. The events that transpire should be believable so as to make them as relatable as the characters that experience them.

Using The Silver Linings Playbook once again, the events that take place (experiencing mental illness, spending time in a psychiatric hospital, going through a divorce etc.) are relatable to many readers whether they have experienced them first hand but know somebody who has.

The more believable your novel, the more people can relate to it. If you find yourself writing about some dragon colony that exists on a planet one million lightyears from Earth then that’s cool - you might be onto a winner - but unfortunately it won’t be a winner in the realistic fiction category!

  1. They should cover contemporary issues

Your realistic fiction novel should cover one of the pressing issues of our time. Will it be race? Climate change? It could even be something on a smaller scale like a family breakdown.

When it comes down to it, realistic fiction’s ultimate crux is its relatability, and real-world events are relatable to (almost) everyone!

  1. They should carry a pertinent message

Realistic fiction novels should carry a message on how to overcome the novel’s key adversity. As realistic fiction novels often cover real world situations like gender, race, politics etc. they should try and offer some form of resolution on how to successfully handle the topic at hand.

In The Silver Linings Playbook, Quick brings attention to people living with mental health problems and how they require support from their wider network. What’s more, the novel shows that people with a mental illness are also able to fall in love and be happy, and this is in stark contrast to how older films, novels, TV shows etc. have portrayed people with a mental illness.

In contrast, your message could also simply be alerting people to the fact that something terrible is happening and could have disastrous effects if not dealt with. Your novel could have a disastrous, tragic ending that the story’s main theme has caused.

Perhaps something tragic happens as a result of the race tensions in your novel? Perhaps the people trying to warn of a regional climate catastrophe don’t make it through, thus further highlighting the issue at hand?

Your message is key to propelling the novel’s relatable theme - these two are imperative partners in making your realistic novel a success.

Real life doesn’t always have a happy ending, especially in this day and age, and perhaps it’s important for your novel to reflect this fact?