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Know Jack #395 True Lies

“Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful.”

George Orwell

I think fiction writers would do well to have a touch of politician in them. Making a web of lies sound true enough to draw the reader into it, well, that’s what we are all about. The difference is that fiction writers presume their audience knows they are lying. Moreover, readers will not tolerate lies that are too outrageous or that contradict earlier statements of fact. In fiction, a writer can only stretch reality so far before it breaks. So, the writer has a disadvantage not shared by politicians.

I haven’t ventured into the creation of new worlds often. Only once springs immediately to mind and that story is yet to be put into print. However, when I did venture off this planet, I felt compelled to make a world familiar enough to require little explanation without being completely earthbound. I didn’t realize back then that I worried needlessly about using “male” and “female” rather than “man” and “woman” to describe non-humans.

As politicians might tell you, one way around unpleasant truth is to use a very narrow spotlight and shine it only in places that fit the storyline. Let’s face it no one wants to read about a romance between a working stiff with a beer gut and plain Jane who works at Wal-Mart. While I advocate cramming as much reality into a story as possible, that’s too much reality.

Like voters, readers don’t want to hear about their rather ordinary lives, they want the lifestyles of the rich and famous. My characters are harder to convince that a rougarou is real than my readers. My readers want the rougarou to be real and so do I.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting fiction writers to tell fabulous lies to entertain people. Mr. Orwell, a master of fiction himself, has a different take on politicians horning in on the genre.


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