“What is important is to invent a story and to make the spectators believe it.”

—Tahar Ben Jelloun

I like this quote from contemporary Moroccan author Tahar Ben Jelloun.

This is exactly how an author creates a successful novel – by creating characters, a story and an environment that draws us in immediately and has us fully engaged, feeling that we are alongside our protagonist and fully invested in what happens to him or her.

Paris Review photo - Tahar Ben Jelloun

It doesn’t matter if that’s taking place today in a Moroccan village in the Atlas Mountains, or back in Florence, Italy during the Renaissance or on some far-away planet thousands of years in the future.

For all of those settings, it is up to the author to suspend our disbelief and to draw us fully into the story and its characters – to convince us as we read those pages that the story is true.

The best stories achieve exactly what Ben Jelloun describes.

Invent a story and make your readers believe in it. Make us race through the pages to see what happens next. Make us think about the story and its characters long after we’ve read the last page.

Here’s to authors honing their craft and fooling their readers. The best always do.