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Kidding … But Only Just

A while back I tweeted, “Fiction writing is a socially acceptable form of insanity.” I was only half-joking, and was surprised by how many people seemed to agree with me. Later I discovered that some famous authors gave credence to that view also.

J.K. Rowling said that she is “perfectly happy sitting alone in a room, making things up in her head all day.” We applaud her because she’s written stories many of us hold dear. If a non-writer type person made the same statement, we’d worry for them.

Then there’s Ray Bradbury, who said pretty much the same thing:

Ray Bradbury quote

Keeping It Real

When fiction is done well, readers suspend disbelief, their world drops away, and the story becomes real…the characters, the setting, everything about the time and place. For an author to create a story that convincing, the world and characters have to become real for them as well. As Robert Frost said:

No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.

At a Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) Summer Conference a few years back, Judy Blume made a surprise appearance and added one better to Robert Frost’s quote:Marble statue

“If the author isn’t turned on when writing a love scene, the reader won’t be turned on either.”

The audience hooted, because it’s so true. If you don’t feel the spark when you’re writing a scene, the reader won’t feel it either.

The same standard of realness holds true for any art form, if it is to emotionally move its audience … whether it’s music, the visual or performing arts. To transmit a feeling through their work, the artist must delve into the emotion. One glance at the statue in this image, and it’s obvious the sculptor felt love on a deep, spiritual level. [PC: morguefile.com]

Reading ~ Socially Acceptable Psychosis

I came across the following description of reading and laughed out loud, because it’s a perfect match for psychosis:

…staring at marked slices of trees and hallucinating vividly for hours on end.

When fiction is done right, this is the effect is has on the reader. We become so fully engaged in the story…everything about it becomes real.

The reality a story creates doesn’t cease when a book is finished…for the reader or the writer. The story and its characters take on a life of their own. So much so, that many of us wish fictional characters Happy Birthday on social media (you know you do too, admit it).

The world the characters inhabit becomes equally real. Why else would thousands of people trek to Universal Studios’ Wizarding World of Harry Potter, in Orlando (and soon in Los Angeles) to visit Hogwarts, Diagon Alley, and drink butter beer? Because that world is real to those who love those books.

Meg Cabot recently tweeted about actually googling the weather in Genovia (Princess Mia’s country). I love this. I can so totally relate, after having read the entire Princess Diaries series. This is fiction done right!

Meg Cabot tweet