Truth is stranger than fiction

As a writer, I try to find the strange and make it believable in fiction. After all, reading is about escape from the outside world. Plunging into the adventure of a novel for an afternoon shouldn’t be jarred with thoughts of “Wait a minute, would that really work?” or “Why would he believe her?” or any other questioning. In a way, the writer is serving as a liar, to serve up a huge lie on a platter to the reader and make the reader believe it, if only for the duration of reading the book. This trick is harder than it looks.

Sometimes reality does the job for us. We see everyday events and ask ourselves how such a thing could have happened. Maybe it was depressing, or delightful, or downright bizarre, like the zebra found in downtown Atlanta today. I was away from the computer when the story broke, and upon returning I saw people mentioning zebras. Naturally my first reaction was “What on earth are you talking about?” before looking up the event myself. Written in fiction, much more setup would be needed in order in order for the writer to lie successfully. In real life, the story just works.

This shouldn’t stop us from writing the bizzare, though. Sometimes the bizzare stories do make the best ones. Take those and write them, cherishing their quirky nature. Just remember that you’re going to have to craft a great story in order for people to believe it, just like in life.

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