Granular verisimilitude

You know you have a good editor—thanks Tim!—when they point out that the narratively-necessary-but-totally-arbitrary-8-digit number in your novel manuscript is unlikely to have the unique digits you thought would make it appear random because among the 100 million 8-digit numbers, there are only about 1.8 million whose digits are all different. So your number is an outlier in that particular sense; not only might the reader find it hard to imagine that anyone could know a number to that precision, but it smells like a made-up number.

Engineering the suspension of disbelief is all in the details.


Complement with a brief anatomy of story, the surprising plausibility of Russian Doll, and my advice for authors.

Get new posts delivered straight to your inbox:

Eliot Peper is the author of nine novels, including Cumulus, Bandwidth, and, most recently, Veil. He sends a monthly newsletter documenting his journey as a reader and writer, tweets more than he probably should, and lives in Oakland, CA.