No I am not dissuading anyone from reading fantasy novels or imagining a whole new world set in the future and steeped in science fiction. As with most of my postings here I blog with a double edged sword enabling a dance back and forth over the line to which each sentence argues for. Today will be no different.
I’ve lost time reading many novels who lose someone close to them and in two paragraphs the character has run through the gamut of emotions and is ready to move on to the next hurtle in the story faster than 24’s Jack Bauer. (Ever notice he receives bad news, stares off to some random spot for five seconds, blinks and then moves on? He DOES have only 24 hours after all…)
Maybe your character is a psychopath with an incredible emotional disconnect. Or maybe you weren’t keeping it real. That type of loss immediately cuts us deep. The hurt and anguish continue on, rearing their head at inopportune times with a burning despair that does not simply pass from distraction. Write your protagonist with flesh that bleeds and bone that breaks. It is these crucial moments in the story that pull the reader in and connect with the character.
In that same vein, ensure the way you write your own world is authentic. Look at your life with legitimate eyes; at those around you and your encounters in life. I have a propensity to say what is on my mind, announce how I see things without consideration of those around me. It’s a habit that I cannot shake. So I have learned to try and temper it but delivering my thoughts and feelings with a smile or with as much benevolence as possible.
On occasion this method has been branded passive aggressive. Because I try to tell you the choice you made mirrors that of what a two year old or a rabid red squirrel would make but do so nicely? Passive aggressive is “I really like that skirt; it hides just how big you’ve gotten”. Sharing on how you see things with a sugar coat is “You know I love you, right? The skirt is wonderful but the button is begging for a merciful execution. Try the next size up.” Did I just go off on a tangent? I believe I did. I mean this in the nicest way, but when you label me something I’m not just because I’m direct and you can’t handle it… Well, you can’t handle it. Keep it real. Admit it. Move on.
Where was I? Keeping it real.Write your life as you would type your story. Believable story lines with believable reactions. Not all readers appreciate this. (I’m looking at you, people who bought over 100 million copies of Twilight. What the wha?!) Most will. Then surround your protagonist with supporting characters that tell it like it is. “Oh my God that skirt must be from Japan! It is completely smaller than American sizes!” That doesn’t help with this particular blog’s directive.
Now maybe your story requires that type of antagonist for the story to find conflict and eventual resolution (all good stories have a resolution for the reader). But let’s leave that to our fiction. The ones we love, truly love, need the truth from people they trust. Only we can give it to them. With sugar on top. Not everyone likes cornflakes. But if you sprinkle a little sugar on top with the milk you’ll find even the pickiest four year old will enthusiastically dig in with their spoon.
This topic is broad for sure. Six hundred words in and I could easily drone on for a thousand more. The simplest summary is keep it real even when it hard to. That’s probably when it’s most important.
Hurt and angry at first, most will thank you in the end.