Why Writers Lie and Why It’s Good

There is a reason why a novel or short story is called fiction. According to my American Heritage Dictionary fiction is defined as 1. an imaginative creation or pretense 2. a lie 

Putting the definitions  together we find a novel or short story is a pretentious lie created in one’s imagination. Shame on writers. And I do think you have to be a little pretentious to be a writer. And you certainly have to lie.

So why do writers create lies and why do readers believe the lies. We believe the lie you know. Readers talk  about characters as if they are real. When we read we get involved in what is going on with imagined characters who do not exist. If this happened without a book, that being getting involved with people who are imagined, said people get therapy and drugs for their hallucinations. I had an aunt who stood in front of a mirror in the hallway and talked Finnish to her reflection believing it was a friend of hers. She was ill. My aunt, not the reflection.(though that would make an intriguing story if the reflection was ill, and not my aunt). Anyway, you see the point. We have the book as an excuse for believing in non-existent people.

Writers create stories because they can not help themselves; they are warped.

Readers read for many reasons. One of which is that they like warped writers who create characters that interest them.

But here is the truth of the matter. If the characters seem real, if their actions are believable, if the readers can identify with situations, the reader sees the truth of the matter.

When you read the lies created by great writers human truths are revealed, for if they were not, we readers could not identify with the story. We sympathize, we feel empathy, we get mad, we laugh, we get scared, we sense tension. In short all our human emotions come into play, and in doing so we see the bigger picture, we understand something that can enlighten us, move us, learn more about how we feel, how we think, and it is all done through a lie.

I do not advocate lying in real life. Lots of trouble when you do. Let the writer do the lying, he will tell you the truth.

 

What Should Writers Steal?

I was sitting at a desk doing volunteer work for an organization I belong to, and sitting not far away were a group of six or seven middle age-or older-women at a long table holding a monthly meeting. I could not hear anything specific in their discussion, but since they were in my direct line of vision and since they were preoccupied with whatever they were discussing I was an unobtrusive observer.

And I could spy. And I could steal without being noticed.

One of the women had a hairstyle best described as worn-out Brillo pad. She chewed gum with intense fierceness, unlike a cow who enjoys her cud with gourmet bliss. At one point the woman got up and left the building, coming back about six minutes later. I believe she had gone out for a cigarette; she had that ‘air’ about her. And she had, what I assumed, was fresh cud-excuse me-gum in her mouth. She went back to her seat and resumed her chew. A short while later a man and woman came in.

The man wore a bright knit cap, knitted with the colors of the rainbow, plus colors that existed only on the cap, in a horizontal pattern that encircled his head. The man bent over to look in a display case. I noticed a perfect circle a few inches in diameter cut out of the top of the cap. He was bald-at least in that spot. I imagined that if he wore the cap in summer, he might have a cute little tan spot at the top of his head. I didn’t ask him about the strange circle at the top of the cap for I didn’t want to break my observation. A spy can’t make contact with his quarry. You understand right?

The point is not why he had cutout that small circle in his knit cap, nor is the point about what the woman was doing with her gum, but what you can steal from around you. What you can use in describing characters in your story.

When you observe people, what they wear, how they walk, anything that stands out, you make a mental note, or like me, write it down in my small pocket notebook-when nobody you are observing can see you of course. You are the spy, you are the thief, and you must be discreet.

Character traits, odd little tics and quirks, make your characters more believable and identifiable to your readers. When your reader sees the character in their minds they are more involved with your story.

My observations of people I have stolen from and transformed into fictional characters can be found in my e-Books on Amazon. The descriptions of the books can be found in my header.

 

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Ancestry.com links me to Sherlock Holmes

According to Ancestry.com to whom I sent my DNA-not all of it, just a sample-I am a direct descendant of Sherlock Holmes. I know, I know, you are going to tell me Holmes is a fictional character; I understand all that. But I too am a fictional character. It does not make me any less real.

There are thousands like me, perhaps millions, and we have lives; we experience fear, love, and some of us are mistrusted, many for good reason, and many of us are heroic in different ways.

The problem we fictional characters face is that our lives, no matter how exciting our lives seem to you, get boring at the redundancy of our existence. I have been told that readers face similar fates, but with a difference. You get up, get dressed, eat breakfast, brush your teeth, go to work or school, eat lunch, go home, eat dinner, watch TV, and go to bed and if you are one of the lucky ones, you do not sleep alone. One difference between you and us, is we rarely go the bathroom. When did Sherlock Holmes ever relieve himself, or sit on a toilet and ponder clues.

So perhaps your life seems redundant at times and you to escape into our world and read some fictional lives. But look at it from our point of view. Take Sherlock Holmes in Hound of the Baskervilles. You can read the story a hundred times and Sherlock does the same things a hundred times. Let me tell you folks, that gets boring for us. Do you have any idea how it feels to be a character who is killed off. Do you want to get shot thousands of times. It’s not fun, but that is not my problem for I have not died off yet. But I can imagine.

Speaking of imagination try to imagine life from our point of view. Would you like to eat in the same restaurant, eating the same food, wearing the same clothes, dining with the same people. Trust me, it gets boring. You can change things up a bit. We are trapped.

The good thing about Sherlock Holmes was he had adventures other than the Hound story. Like him and all my other ancestors-Phillip Marlowe, Perry Mason, Nick and Nora Charles, Hercule Poirot, Lew Archer, Travis McGee, and Nero Wolfe to name a few, they do have different stories to tell. As a result they have different ways to get bored, but still it is better than having one story to tell.

Just as God created humans-so I am told-someone created me and I am thankful for that. In fact, I feel a stirring in my soul-yes we have one- and I sense a sequel coming on so I must get back to work. So I will see you in the bookstore or perhaps that Kindle thing.

But first I will go the bathroom.

What the housekeeper in “Rebecca” reveals about the writing process

If you read Daphne De Maurier’s Rebecca, then you know Mrs. Danvers, the mysteriously manipulative housekeeper of Manderley. What you may not know is how her character developed. It says much about the writing process.

In an interview describing the development of Mrs. Danvers, Du Maurier said, “…the housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers had become more sinister. Why I have no idea.”

Taking her at her word, I think Mrs. Danvers became more sinister in the story because writers have an instinctive sensibility for storytelling that often surprise them in the writing process. Characters simply take over no matter what the writer intends. I have no idea how Du Maurier originally envisioned Mrs. Danvers, but if she were not sinister, not a creepy manipulative, jealous, spiteful woman, there would be no tension, no conflict between her and the new Mrs. de Winter. The reader senses the conflict, more so than Mrs. de Winter.

Mrs. Danvers is the pivotal character in the story around which so much mystery revolves. Without her sinister character the story is entirely different, our feelings for Mrs. de Winter will be different, for the malevolent spirit of Mrs. Danvers will be mitigated and Mrs. de Winter will not seem so isolated, so vulnerable.

I have read about many writers, Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, and Elmore Leonard to name three, who have an idea for a story and in the course of writings, minor characters become major characters, and where the story was planned to go ends up going somewhere else. Again, it gets back to the writers instinct, the ability to sense when you come to the fork in the road, you take the one that feels right.

The lesson here is if you write, don’t think too much, just keeping clicking letters on the keyboard, use it like an Ouija board and see where the fingers take you.

Du Maurier also said, “Women want love to be a novel, men want a short story.” I’ll let you sort that one out.

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Why I Created Three Fictional Characters-And How

It started so strangely.

There was a real person named Charlie Faust, 1880-1915, who once pitched for the New York Giants in 1911. Sort of.  A biography of Charlie, though much of his life is unknown, was written by Gabriel Schecter, called Victory Faust.

But who was Charlie?

That is what baseball people wanted to know. He was strange, and though many of his famous Giant teammates talked about him, and wrote about him, Charlie remains elusive. He could have been the most naïve country hick in history. Or he could have had mental issues. Perhaps-in the language of the day-retarded. But nobody knows for sure.

A few people have tried to write a fictional story of his life, but according to Mr. Schecter, nobody had. So a few years ago I decided to explore Charlie. To tell his story I used a rookie fresh off a Storden, Minnesota farm. Chet Koski was born in 1888 and in 1911 at the time of the story he is 22, his birthday being in October. He is not the rube that Charlie is, but it is his first time in a big city, and in a true sense it is his coming of age story, though by stories end, Chet does not fully bloom.

So we see Charlie through Chet who ends up as Charlie’s friend and at times guardian angel.

Now a young man in New York needs a girlfriend and she is Eveleen Sullivan, born in Ireland, 1890. Red hair, green eyes, she is all Irish. Her dreams are of the Broadway stage. When we meet her she is doing small parts, mostly in the chorus. She has another suitor, a British actor, who I will say little about. I won’t say he is a cad, but there is something about him I don’t trust.

Chet and Eveleen, like any young couple whose dreams lie in different direction, are unsure of themselves, of each other, and of any future. They might have a chance together, but then again, who knows.

The e-Novel is a satire on fame and celebrity. Charlie after all, though he is more a good luck omen, like a rabbits foot, or a horseshoe, becomes famous, not only in New York where he appears on Broadway within weeks of his mysterious arrival in New York, but all around baseball and the cities he sort of played in.

The baseball action and the scores are accurate. I researched the season and the games. Since Chet is fictional, I substituted him for a real player from time to time, but though he is fictional, what he does is what really happened.

Not only do we meet Christy Mathewson, Rube Marquard, manager John McGraw and other Giant players, we also meet Bat Masterson, George M. Cohan, and sportswriter Damon Runyon.

I said in the heading there were three fictional characters and I have mentioned only two, Chet and Eveleen. The third is Clancy. At the time of this story she is eleven years old and is not in Loonies in the Dugout. She shows up at the age of 22 in Loonies in Hollywood. She is the daughter of a rich California banker, and a carpe diem flapper with an extroverted personality. She is, as anyone would say, a handful. She was to be a plot device, nothing more; enter and leave the story in one scene, and a brief one at that. But she dominated the scene and as writers know, a character, yes a fictional one, can force their way into a story. She has become my favorite character. As I said she is a handful. 

And of course Clancy became friends with Eveleen and Chet, helping their murder investigations in two published books and one mystery in progress.

Though the three characters appear in two stories, Silent Murder being the second, you do not have to read them in sequence as each is a stand alone story.

You can find them on Amazon here. Loonies in the Dugout, with two four star reviews, only 99 cents.

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