Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Compared To What.

By Daddy X

What does fiction do for us? Take us to the outer reaches of the universe? To new worlds? Inside technology? To a contrived history of the pyramids? Do we, as writers, first experience the travels in the real world, then relate the trip ourselves? Or do we create the journey from whole cloth? What stimulates a reader’s mental and emotional synapses to trigger a particular realization the writer has in mind? How to get readers to process information the way we intend? Do we acknowledge intelligent readers by subtle tricks, isolating ourselves from their own interpretations? Or do we hold their hands, explaining everything as we go along, leaving nothing to the imagination? How do we make it all happen? How to keep it real?

Life experiences hint at how a character may behave in a given circumstance or what reactions may result from certain stimuli. Creating an acceptably realistic scenario is a melding of what we know as fact with what simply might be. It’s a matter of blending the universally knowable with conjecture. Sounds easy, as long as we’re simply writing what we know, what we’ve lived.

While I certainly do make up shit, I can’t say that I’ve ever been tempted to write anything too far out.  By that I mean crossing erotica with Sci-fi, paranormal, vampires, zombies (ick). I do have a couple thousand words set on another planet, but there it sits, in the ‘What Next?’ pile.

Fact is I’m not really conversant in the very fantastical, except for those places I’ve traveled within myself and consequently still within my world. Doors opened and thresholds crossed under the influence of psychedelics. Real life, whether within our conscious minds or not, is all so interesting (and fantastic) that there’s enough internal space to explore before I’d get to setting up other unfamiliar, complicated societies. I can’t figure out the one we’re living in, for crissakes.

Clearly, a lot of readers do love these fantasy genres, and the artists who create them can be quite affecting. Storyteller Stephen King is one who states the impossible and makes us believe it. The writers of the ‘Star Trek’ series, endowed with the innate ability not only to create new worlds, technologies, societal patterns, etc. also remembered to take us along for the ride. As if a phaser was something everybody had in a drawer somewhere. We felt we understood how warp drive worked.  

Feeling one’s way around a created fantasy world is at once a noble, frivolous, and difficult task. Noble, in that an alternate ordering of a different way of being even resides in the random cards of animal imagination. Frivolous, for those who lead a more simple existence--even folk tales and creation myths tend to stay fixed in nature. Difficult, in that it all has to jibe.  

We mustn’t forget the need for the human spirit to create fantasy. Even in the most removed tribes, the otherworldly has a way of creeping into a very real existence even though a moody, introspective state couldn’t be sustained for long. Not at least without the cooperation of others of like mind. It seems as though there’s a need in the human condition that requires flights of fancy. Escapism? Metaphor? A need to explore the creative process? This is the genesis of magical thought. To create an unsubstantiated story to explain who we are, why we are, and where we come from. Births of religions would fall in here somewhere.

The very complexity of our own way of life seldom makes sense, so why, one may ask, does ‘real’ matter so much? Good question, but Fiction has to make sense relative to itself. Life doesn’t have to follow any rules. A reader’s observation may suggest that a particular outcome would be impossible given the information provided.

At times it appears we accept such incongruities in our real lives much easier than we endure fake in our fiction. Reality is a state of flux. In the real world, we can’t always predict the effect of an action, whereas in the world of fiction we must. We can surprise, but the surprise must be congruent with what came before.

My guess is it’s my own laziness, covering for some perceived inadequacy that keeps me from the difficult stuff of research, which would be necessary to any endeavors in writing the fantastic. Same as a historical piece for that matter, so it’s not just a simple fear of the unknown that keeps me from that noble task. 

My lamest excuse would be that at this stage of life, there isn’t time for researching something outside my experience. After all, I am still a long way from exhausting what I’ve learned thus far. Going forward, it follows that research into esoteric and non-substantive issues could be a waste of time. Time better spent writing. Of course all that’s simply cover for procrastination, and that was our last topic, wasn’t it? Funny how themes reoccur. 


  1. You're in a philosophical vein this week, Daddy!

    I think you've struck the bull's eye with this comment:

    "Fiction has to make sense relative to itself."

    As authors, we establish the ground rules when we create our fictional worlds. Those worlds might hew close to the everyday or might be set on another planet. However, once we put the story in motion, it has to be coherent.

    I love well-written fantasy. Still, I get royally annoyed with books where there's always some other magical power or effect cropping up to twist the characters out of their sticky spots. Reality has its limits, and for me, so do the best imagined worlds, even those that are radically different from the one in which we live.

  2. Re the philosophical vein, I told you about my upcoming 50th high school reunion this weekend. Guess that has me thinking on a grander scale than usual. Y'know, paths taken, choices made early in life and how different it could all be but for the fluttering butterfly wing that sets the winds in motion.

    Just hope the post wasn't too scattered. It was only some random musings from which I attempted to pull something coherent.

  3. i think a good writer is someone who empathizes with others & is therefore able to create characters who readers can feel compassion for. this should be possible whether one writes about humans or aliens or supernatural creatures, in my opinion.
    great post, Daddy X. have a great reunion!

  4. Yes, Amanda-
    The first step is to sense and understand these human characteristics within ourselves so that we may better interpret them in others.

    We're off! So if you don't hear from me for a few days... we're out having fun.