We had quite a heated debate at the writing group this week. The discussion was about a patently unreal scene in a piece of fiction. This wasn’t a story about another dimension or some magical kingdom where the usual rules don’t apply; the scene was set in the real world, but so unrealistic as to be absurd. The writer maintained that it’s fiction, so it doesn’t need to be realistic.
This really annoys me – when you’re reading an otherwise gripping novel or watching an absorbing film, and you’re suddenly yanked out of the moment by a glaring anachronism.
Maybe it’s just me, and I’m overburdened with information. I don’t mean to be glib but sometimes I wonder if too much knowledge is indeed the marvellous thing it’s purported to be. Would it be better not to know? Is ignorance really bliss?
Let me explain. Last night I was watching ‘Atonement’, the film of the book by Ian McEwan. I’ve read the book and seen the film before, and although I thoroughly enjoyed both, there’s always been a little itch, something I couldn’t quite put my finger on, that prevented me from enjoying them as much as I should. Last night it finally clicked. My problem hinges on the use of one little word.
So, you’ve written those immortal words, ‘The End’. You’ve had your masterpiece (final draft, right?) read by some well-meaning friends and family who all agree that it’s brilliant. It can’t fail, they say.
Hang on though. Before you parcel up your precious manuscript and send it out for consideration, there are a few things that you should double check. And then check again.