Truth and Lies.

Fiction writing is making things up that aren’t true. This is another way of saying writing lies, but there are two sorts of lies, the simple lie and the compound lie.

Simple lies are those to be desired as they stick very close to truth wherever possible. One way to see this is in the world creation of the book. It can happen in a real place or a fantasy world but the important thing here is that wherever is chosen must seem real. In order for this to happen there are rules to follow. Simplistically, an orchid would not grow in a barren ice desert. Cheating by calling a bunny a floodle or a moopsie is still not going to change the fact that it is a bunny and will be constrained within the confines of bunny actions if it is to suspend the reader’s ability to disbelieve; really what all this is about.

Character are more complex, as they should be if they are to come to life in a sense.  A character must have motivations and for those to form, he/she has to have a past filled with things that form the motivations and promote the actions resulting from them. A lot of research can go into the creation of a character, FREX, my futuristic King Arthur in the Shadow series has over 500k notes in files of things that are useful or critical to know. A lot of this goes back to the original Welsh poems and songs. It is interesting to note a lot of the accepted history of the king was invented by one Geoffrey of Monmouth, a misogamist monk who disapproved of any instances of women recorded as having any power. They had to be evil so he made up the entire incest story to discredit Morgan Le Fay. A person has to wonder how a celibate monk got those sorts of ideas, but there you go, the lie is told and retold. Of course, only a fraction of the research goes into the book so what is the purpose, you may ask? The writer has to know how the character ticks and which way they will jump. Does the person like beef or lamb and if so, why? It is not just looking out of their eyes, it is knowing everything.

Now we get to the compound lie and it is here books can founder. This lie starts off simple but then gets additions not attaching securely to the first because the original intention wasn’t clearly envisaged or has been forgotten. This is where the term plot hole originates. Someone has just done something or had something happen that should not have come to pass because this makes nonsense of what has gone before.

Example? How about the easy fantasy trope of a farmer’s boy needing to leave his farm to explore the world as he feels confined by his simplistic circumstances? Some threat is fine at this point and it is still a simple lie. Many chapters later this same character has lost the farm he owned valiantly defending it against a marauding dragon whose existence was never mentioned in the first part of the story. The character doesn’t seem to believe he is inventing things and nor do those around him, with him on his journey from the beginning. Here is an enormous plot hole. The story is going to fail at this point.  Obviously, some plot holes are more subtle, but they are still the result of the compound lie, which always fails.

A good story should have the ability to make the reader both laugh and cry.

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