One of the constant challenges in writing fiction is hiding the concepts and ideas within the text. Over the last few manuscripts, I’ve had a few breakthroughs in my path to ground these concepts.

In the last manuscript, my coach and I reviewed one of my scenes. At some point within the scene, I wanted my character to express that how he believes when he’s socializing in the lunch hall he learns more about his linguistics major than he does in any of the classes.

That’s a point I want to make.

Then the whole challenge is (1) when/how the character would think or say that organically, and (2) how to ensure the character sees it as organic.

My coach had been talking it out, where this would fit in the scene, and I paid close attention to her thought process. Quickly she ruled out two moments of the scene because the emotion is too high. (noted) Then, she leaped to knowing it had to be the moment where he’s in a flashback talking with his girlfriend. Why? Because at that moment, his agenda is aligned with this logical thought. In that flashback he’s trying to convince his girlfriend that being in the lunch hall is a good thing. This idea completely aligns with his intentions in that moment. So he uses it as persuasion power.

It goes back to what are the character’s motivations and why (what’s going on inside him that brought him to that). But here it goes further, what is his current mind-state? Does he have a sense of urgency? Is he anticipating something dramatic? Does he have time to review and survey? Once you ask these questions, it’s easy to see, okay, he would actually be in too heighten of a state to be thinking about something so conceptual.

To answer #2: You can ensure the thought is organic by making sure the reader understands why they have it, what their internal state was before they had that thought.

Grounding always comes back to the character, what’s going on internally moment to moment, both emotionally and psychologically — and why.