“Don’t exaggerate,” says the Other One, pointing out the thistles in the field, “unless, of course, you’re under the illusion your nose extends beyond the dung heap in the farmyard, and even I wouldn’t say your nose is that big.”
I take a deep sniff. I can smell eco-cleaner (it’s cleaning day). Point taken.
But aren’t writers allowed to exaggerate? Isn’t that what fiction is supposed to do? But where does fiction meet fact in the novel today? When is the reader happy to suspend disbelief? And, who is to judge what is truth or otherwise?
Yesterday a potential editor pointed out that a certain situation in my new novel could not possibly happen, thereby destabilizing its premise. But actually, that situation did happen. To us. Except, of course, I’ve changed the characters, location, the plot….you know how it goes.
So how to convince a reader to enter a world that the writer creates and stick with it, for the sake of a good story? That’s the hard part. J.R. Tolkien managed it. So did J.K. And Bram Stoker. What about writers who write more realistically? Atwood, Dunmore, Gordimer? You can bet your bottom dollar, any novel I care to mention could be opened at a page where somebody might say, “that couldn’t happen”. It’s whether the reader cares whether it did or not.
So, my foggy day morphs into a lovely sunny day at the local garden centre…
…and my protagonist becomes a rather grumpy caterpillar named Cecil…