Keep Your World Real

February 28, 2013 at 8:31 pm | Posted in Reading, Writing, Writing and Life | 1 Comment
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In the real world, people and their inter-actions are not ruled by laws that say this, or that, must happen. Instead, we live in a world where anything is possible and most events can never be predicted with any certainty. We cannot even go with the balance of probabilities all of the time – although we hope that the odds will work out as we want them to.

 So it should really be the same when we create our stories, the characters and their worlds, and the interactions between them. We must make it all look real. The reader should expect the unexpected, and yet feel that the story has been worked out by Fate.

 However we cannot, in reality, toss all the ingredients together as we do with a salad, and then hope our story will somehow play itself out as we wish. We have to make it happen; there is nothing else for it.

 We must make it appear that events occur as they would in everyday life, that the uncertainties and the surprises we all experience are reflected authentically. We do this by the use of techniques and tricks, not by a random assemblage of characters and events in a certain setting. We, as writers, need to make ourselves aware of what these techniques are.

 As Robert Graves says, we have to tell lies to make our readers believe that the story we tell is true.

 The Devil’s Advice to Story-Tellers

Robert Graves

 Lest men suspect your tale to be untrue,

Keep probability—some say—in view.
But my advice to story-tellers is:
Weigh out no gross of probabilities,
Nor yet make diligent transcriptions of
Known instances of virtue, crime or love.

To forge a picture that will pass for true,
Do conscientiously what liars do—
Born liars, not the lesser sort that raid
The mouths of others for their stock-in-trade–
Assemble, first, all casual bits and scraps
That may shake down into a world perhaps;

People this world, by chance created so,
With random persons whom you do not know—
The teashop sort, or travellers in a train
Seen once, guessed idly at, not seen again;
Let the erratic course they steer surprise
Their own and your own and your readers’ eyes;

Sigh then, or frown, but leave (as in despair)
Motive and end and moral in the air;
Nice contradiction between fact and fact
Will make the whole read human and exact

Robert von Ranke Graves novelist, poet, soldier & scholar

 Born 24 July 1895 Wimbledon, England

Died:  7 December 1985, Majorca, Spain

(c) Linda Visman

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