Sorry for missing last week. During my wandering travel I lost track of details such as days of the week. I’m also still a bit jetlagged, or just tired, so I’ll be posting this late on Tuesday instead of on Wednesday. Since returning home I’ve been catching up on e-mail and paperwork and trying to regain control of the garden. Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness sounds lovely, but harvest time is pears, apples, beans, tomatoes etc all demanding attention and the grape vine loaded down with future work.
But lets hope for future wine. Just a bit more warm weather, please.
But I was going to wlite about believability. Real events don’t always make believable fiction. This is one of the strange factors we writers have to work with. Often writers, especially beginners, will protest that some incident is true — that something like it really happened, to them, to their sister. That doesn’t make it believable and so it doesn’t work in the novel.
My sister recently recollected an incident from before my birth. During WWII, a charming your woman was popular with the forces people who spent time in our town. She was pleasant to all of them and would go to dances and other activities with them. After the war one of these young men turned up and declared they were to be married, and she married him. Apparently she didn’t want to. She was seriously interested in another man and not particularly fond of this one, but by simple power of personality he got her to marry him. Alas, it didn’t turn out well.
If I used that situation in a novel I doubt I could make it believable because our logic protests. Why couldn’t she say no? Why didn’t anyone else step in to protect her? What about her other young man? Why didn’t he fight for her? I suspect, as the saying goes, you had to be there.
Take another fictional situation — the disguise. A writer has to do more than tell me that a character is wearing a wig and different clothing to make me believe that a disguise works, especially with people who know him or her well. You know — the hero wears a mask and somehow his wife doesn’t recognize him? The writer needs to convince me that the disguised person has also altered walk, mannerisms, and voice to even begin to convince me.
Especially voice. Isn’t it true that when we hear someone’s voice, even just a few words, we can usually recognize them?
I remember seeing a TV movie made from a romance novel and involving disguise. The mousy heroine wore a wig and sexy clothing and the hero didn’t recognize her. In that case it worked, because I saw the transformation, and it included a complete change in manner, movement, and way of speaking. Doing that on the page, however, is extremely difficult.
On the flip side, often we can write incidents in novels that are extremely unlikely to work that way in reality, but which are believable within fiction. How delightfully complicated it all is.
Do you have any suggestions of realities that wouldn’t be believable in fiction? Or unbelievables that worked for you in a novel? I think we all have lots of them. For example, coincidence, which is quite common, is hard to believe in fiction. I’m not talking about paranormal elements such as werewolves and faeries, but human behavior examples that you know just wouldn’t happen in reality, but are enjoyable anyway.