Friday, January 05, 2007

Troubled_Waters and reality checks

I'm really tired of being sick. If I'm not much better by Monday I'm going to the doctor. This is a major concession for me. I have an instinctive distrust of the medical profession. I went for an actual checkup last year and before that it had been eight years. At this point, I'm ready to try anything to stop feeling lousy. Especially as it's "not my turn anymore". My husband, the great care taker, is down for the count. I went back to work today and halfway through the morning, became pretty sure it was a mistake, but I finished the day out and came home running a fever, etc. My second born has it now and is crawling into bed as I type this. This makes three of the four now.

I edited Troubled_Waters a little this morning and am feeling more confident of it now. I need to flesh it out with a couple of more details and then move on to writing the end. I just have to be sure that the whole thing holds water when I'm done. In that vein, I've been thinking about the following for a couple of days. Because I like to play with my own childhood superstitions and adult paranoias and entertwine it with a number of what-ifs, I'm having to learn when I can get away with dancing around the facts and when I have to adhere to them.

As I understand it, when writers create "worlds" that are different from the ones that the readers live in, we are asking them to suspend belief long enough to go along on the journey into ours. This means that our story has to have some basis in a fact that the reader understands to be true--or they strongly wish it was. People can't physically fly like birds, but most of us wish we could and, on some level, we all hold the belief that if we just concentrate hard enough we could accomplish it. So a story about someone doing it isn't hard for us to accept--if we do a good job of explaining the inner process as well as the physical effort. However if we (writers) try to convince the reader that one of our characters cured the world of cancer by growing a magic beanpole in his backyard and praying to it twice a day, we're going to have a much tougher time getting them to accept it because it's not connected to any kind of existing inner hope, icon of faith or science.

So if my facts are slightly off, (by a percentage point or two) I don't lose any sleep about it. However, if my facts are out and out logically wrong--for instance, if I suggest that someone used flour and a match to build a bomb with--then I'm going to have a huge problem getting the reader to continue the journey with me . So I do my homework--enough to get a working understanding of the subject--and I make up the rest of it.

Trouble_Waters has some of this in it. I will lean on the know-how of a couple of friends who've got background in networking computers, security software and government agencies to help me tighten up my facts some, but I am not going to take a trip to Jefferson City and visit the FBI office to see if there is even a computer securities division. I will track down the proper name for that branch of the FBI before I'm done though.

2 comments:

Scotty said...

Sorry to hear you're still not feeling well, Mary; I hope you (and everyone else, of course) recover quickly.

Mary Paddock said...

Hi Scotty and thank you. It's nice to know that someone is listening. I'm somewhat better today. Local reports are that this is just one of those viruses that's hard to get rid of. The hard part is having sick kids.