Tag Archives | How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Is your story too unbelievable? Add some “sweetening”.

*Winner of the arc of  DITCHED by Robin Mellom is Riv Re! Congrats!

If you haven’t read this absolutely fantastic post about the Grinch at Fiction Notes by Darcy Pattison then click on over. Love, love, love it. And we wonder why that story remains a classic. Well, maybe we don’t wonder – the fun language, the characters, etc.

My whole family sat and watched HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS for our first Christmas special. I watch it for the Grinch song and for his tremendous moment of change when his heart grows and breaks the frame. I love villain songs. And why are villains so fun? #ilovevillains

My daughter had a question that I tweeted the other night.

Daughter: “Why does the Grinch have a sewing machine? And where did he learn to sew?”

Me: “Hmm. Good question.”

And then we proceeded to point out all the other unbelievable parts of the TV version.

But it got me thinking about believability. Why are some events believable even when they are unrealistic? (The kind of stories I love!)

JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH is unrealistic but totally believable!

WHEN YOU REACH ME included time travel but was totally believable!

But if Rebecca Stead had tried to put in some magic beans and a humongous peach into WHEN YOU REACH ME it would’ve been totally unbelievable! (Or who knows? Maybe she could’ve pulled it off.)

Believability comes down to the story, story expectations, the world building; and honestly, the level of writing.

So, for me, the fact that the Grinch had a sewing machine or that Max actually pulled that gigantic sled with all the ribbons, wrappings, and bows up the mountain was totally believable.

Add some sweetening!

We happened to be watching a special edition with an extra behind the scene look at the making of the Grinch. They talked about “sweetening.” Which fascinated me. Sweetening refers to the sound effects they add, the small details, whether a marker squeaking against a balloon or some violins – all to add to the believability.

What would sweetening be for the author? Maybe those small details about the world or your character that seem unimportant but just might add richness to your writing, your story, your world. Hmm. Very interesting.

What do you think? What do you love about unbelievable but believable stories? Do you add sweetening to your work?

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