In which Kate rambles about fiction vs real life

Well. I was going to write something thoughtful and profound and all of that, then the day job intervened. Most people aren’t all that much use after an 11.5 hour work day, and I’m even less use than that, being narcoleptic and prone to sleep-anything (Yes, I’ve dozed while working out. I don’t recommend it).

This kind of not terribly focused rambling is why I try to write my posts a day or two ahead. Sometimes though… It might not be tornadoes dancing in downtown Dallas (Hi, Amanda! Glad nothing really serious got you), but when life happens, it happens but good.

And you know the absolute worst thing about it? You can’t put this kind of thing in a story because it would seem too much like beating on the character for the sake of beating on the character. Rules of story aren’t like rules of life. Life has hordes of people all desperately trying to make their own personal story happen and being thwarted, helped, tangled up in and otherwise impacted by everyone else’s attempts to maketheir story happen. When you write something there’s a small number of people who the thing follows, and everything that happens has to relate to those people and move their challenges somewhere.

Unless you’re writing slice-of-life or gray goo, anyway.

In fiction-land at least one of the conspiracies has to be real. It might be the one where you the author are manipulating all the characters to reach the desired ending, but there’s a conspiracy happening. Real-world will give you the same result through nothing more than human perversity (This is why I subscribe to the notion that whenever there’s a choice between stupidity and conspiracy, go with stupid every time. Even intelligent people can lock themselves into perverse thought patterns and do the most insanely stupid things, but very few people are smart enough for long enough to carry out a conspiracy. Not least because they’re people. They want to tell someone).

Real world is also capable of a lot of people making the best and smartest decisions as they go, leading to an end result that totally messes them around. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that one happen in fiction. I’m not sure I’ve got the skill to write it, either.

Oh, yes, and the biggest difference between real-world and fiction is that real-world enforces inconvenient breaks for things like food, sleep, and eliminatory functions (part of medieval warfare that I doubt will ever find its way into fiction because it’s just so ew – and this is the woman who was raised on dinner time conversation that focused on potty humor). With the need for sleep (it being Wednesday night as I write this) making inroads into the pigheaded stubborn, I’ll leave it at that before I start sleep-typoing at people and leave them to try to make sense of the results.


  1. My brain attempted to force the end of the first paragraph to fit the idiom better by trying to morph “anything” into the participial form of the verb “to anyth”. There are days when my brain isn’t exactly fit company … 🙂

    1. Stephen,

      That sounds so like something I’d do. I’m only ever fit company by the grace of a passel of psychoactive drugs and a whole lot of practice.

  2. Speaking as someone who has had interesting moments getting free of a wetsuit in a hurry (that only takes about 5-10 minutes to get into), I’ve always wondered about dodgy food and water and suits of armour!

    1. Dave,

      It’s rather similar. There’s a very good reason why it was the squire’s job to clean the knight’s armor after the battle. The apprentice always gets the dirtiest work…

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