All of us can dream up some pretty ugly scenarios.
Depraved, disturbing, deranged. I’d wager you could come up with some horrific scenes with some downright criminal activity. Stuff you’d feel you could never put to paper. So, how is it that some authors can actually write that stuff and not be thought of as insane?
For my latest work in progress I’ve decided to abandon some of my social constraints and write of gawd-awful acts and heinous behavior. Immolation, horse stomping children, murdering a pregnant woman, soon the dismemberment of a “bad dude.”
Holy Hell Batman! That’s some nasty shit. Are you sure you want to have your name associated with such wickedness? Are you sure you want your editor/mother (78) to read of such unspeakable cruelty? What will she think of you now? Disturbed? Perverted?
Frankly, I don’t know. But, I figure if I can visualize it, then so can others, and if it fits the story, then so be it.
But, day-yam, that’s some corrupt sewage leaking out of my brain.
Have you written content you know others would find disturbing? Did their consternation and potential ostracization influence your writing?
In the United States, Thanksgiving is over and most of us can store away the masks we wear for family occasions. We unlock the chest, rummage to the bottom, and tuck them beneath the yearbooks and faded photo albums. We’ll unearth them again at the Winter Solstice holiday (Hanukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and the New Year).
Meanwhile, we’ll only have to tote around the two or three we use daily to get through our work-a-day lives. Flip-slip-snap! On goes the work-mask. Zip-clip-pip! Here we swap one out to talk to our children (or elders). Peal-squeal-kneel, we don the one we wear for our spouse.
These masks we wear, do we even consider them? Do we ever resent them? Or, embrace them — gathering them in droves as flavors of personalities we expose?
And then, at night, we sleep and our masks melt away while we dream; our true selves bubble up through the falsity of cultural-behavioral control. In our dreams we are who we are, our masks flitting over our faces like tissue — there and gone, torn away by our unconscious desires to be both ourselves and our un-selves.
How many masks do you wear? Are there those you find uncomfortable? Alluring? Disturbing?
Fiction is lying.
The fabrication of a make-believe story, perhaps without a shred of substantiation in the real world, is, in all meaningful ways, a lie. Some archeologists believe that the ability to lie, to tell stories, may be what set Homo Sapiens Sapiens apart. The imagining of an untrue event or situation is effectively self-deception. You lie to yourself envisioning the story and then lie to others in telling it.
Everyone lies. If you can create an imaginary world, if you can daydream of some future possibility or rework some past debacle or failure in some better light, you’re effectively inventing a temporary lie.
Stories which depict truthful characters, virtuous and pure champions are boring. As we all lie, creating a character who does not, conflicts with all of our natural understanding of human behavior.
Therefore, in writing fiction, lie. Lie with the telling and then have every one of your characters fib in some way, small or large. Double speak builds intrigue. Deceit is delicious. Layering speculation upon a character’s actions and speech seasons the reader’s mind with savory questions. The more ‘why’s you have, the more conflict you can drive into your story.
Secrets are lies, one could say. Given the opportunity to divulge a notion and failing to do so? Why? Is the information contained within that secret a form of leverage? Power? Did your character lie when they said they didn’t know of an underground passage out of the castle? So they could use it themselves? Why allude to an unloaded gun when simply by hefting it I can tell it’s got at least five rounds in it. Why whisper to me of your upcoming betrayal? To implicate me as well? To persuade me to lie upon your behalf when confronted?
To live is to lie. Our stories should be no different.
I’ve had this story in my head for a long time. I decided to give it a start and see how it felt.
The Pulse and Glow
The world balances at the tip of peak energy. More, ever more, beg the people of the planet. And who are the First World nations to hold back those of the third? But their plead for more rings hollow. And every engineer, every climate scientist, every physicist, geologist, economist, and, lately, politician realizes that more is no longer a possibility.
In a tiny village in Iraq, a dreamer, an engineer of mysterious skills, discovers a possible answer to the energy crisis. The battle to release this invention into the world becomes his and the world’s only salvation. But Abani is only a simple engineer. And the Russians, and Saudis and Norwegians would rather not see their hegemony of the world’s oil reserves jeopardized. The illuminati, long acknowledge to command the world’s economy are about to lose control — all because of a tiny device that delivers ‘free energy’.