Ah, fiction, the imaginary land of make-believe. Stories often comprised of monsters, ghouls, and superheroes. Fantastical and exciting tales of situations or people who only exist in a writer’s brain. Preposterous falsehoods we’re often expected to embrace.
As a fiction writer myself, every time I think about what I do, I get a little buzz going. Maybe it’s because of all the caffeine in my system.
The jury’s still out on that one.
But for you fellow fiction writers out there, I know you can totally relate to this next observation.
As fiction writers, we actually get paid to drink coffee — or whatever else we can get our hands on — and make s*it up. Wowzers. Ain’t that a freaking great job?
But it ain’t easy. Not by any means.
And as with all the genres out there, I firmly believe fiction writers need to “keep it real” with their readers. Especially and almost to a fault with their characters and scene building.
And no, in my humble opinion, Deus ex machina just doesn’t cut it. Not even once in a blue moon.
Deus ex machina. God in the machine. Or in layman’s terms pulling something out of thin air (or one’s a*s) as a way of keeping the story moving forward.
It’s like a scene where a weapon suddenly appears in a protagonist’s hand when he/she/it is surrounded by villains, and they’re forced to shoot their way out to a happy conclusion.
The problem is, you’ve read the entire story so far, and you know the protagonist wouldn’t squash a bug (they happen to be an entomologist or a bug themselves) much less harm another human being or cockroach.
And they’ve never held a weapon other than a butter knife their entire life. Or worse, they can’t figure out just which leg to use.
Cue the reader, “oh please. Really?”
To move the story out of a corner a writer just painted themselves into, they begin fabricating lies. Yes, the reader knows this particular fiction story is just that, fiction, but up until now, they’ve been willing to come along for the ride.
Up until the moment where the writer blew it, the readers bought into the reality of the story.
Even though it wasn’t real.
And then as a fiction writer, we whip out Deus ex machina, and there we go, over the fall, leaving our barrel sitting on the bank expecting the reader to believe we’ll survive because of a superpower the reader never knew we possessed.
And the story got, well, stupid. Why? Because the not real story ceased to be real in the reader’s mind, and they simply shut down.
(Nutshell Cliche. Don’t make me have to write the entire d*mned thing)
It’s all about being truthful, even when we’re making s*it up. Yes, even fiction writers must learn to be honest with their readers.
Okay, I’m not the best fiction writer on the market by any means. Far from it. I have a lot to learn and a whole lot of writing to do, and more dues to pay before I arrive at the station.
But one thing I’ve learned, especially with all my Henry James stories, is that the characters in these stories of mine need to walk like the character walks and talk like the character talks.
More importantly, walk and talk like the readers expect them to.
This piece today comes from thoughts I had on the most current HJ series I’m working on. As white house occupant number 45 is often quoted, “a lot of people are saying”, they really get into the main body of characters I’ve created.
They like the way they interact with other characters in the stories and themselves. They like some of the impossible situations the characters often find themselves in.
They enjoy the real deal way the characters confront made up situations in the stories in a realistic fashion.
As far as I’m concerned, so good, so far.
Over the last year, I’ve shaped these characters and their world until they’ve almost become real life. At least to me, but well, most of my reading base knows I ain’t all there at times.
I often speak of them to my wife, and we find ourselves discussing what these characters have done, what they’re doing now, and what they should be doing in the future.
Quite a bit more than we talk about the two cats currently taking up space and breathing our air in our house.
Yeah, I know. We both could probably use some serious psychoanalysis.
But for some reason, with this latest Henry James story, I just feel the time’s right to delve out a little more truth about one of the characters.
From the perspective of the other characters.
And it’s going to be kind of a harsh perspective. A perspective that might possibly drive a wedge into these character's relationships.
What I intend for this extremely fictional character to experience will be an authentic, emotional human condition. A condition we’ve all either experienced in the past or just maybe are experiencing right now.
And because readers have experienced it or witnessed it when it happened to them or those around them, my hope is they will sense what the character is going through.
I hope I can pull it off.
My hope is they’ll feel the reality of the situation and perhaps empathize with or have feelings of disdain for, the character.
Either way, I’d like them to stick with the story to see how this one is going to turn out.
Regardless; whether it flies or crashes and burns, I know as a fiction writer what my focus should be on. Being truthful to my readers. Being honest and writing realistic fiction.
Just because my fiction’s not true doesn’t mean it can’t be real.
Thank You So Much For Reading
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