'Tis strange, but true; for truth is always strange;
Stranger than fiction;
Lord Byron - Don Juan
Byron’s line has become a throwaway: Life is stranger than fiction. I think most of us use it to describe the offbeat or serendipitous event without much thinking about it. Until those of us who write begin to wrestle with a plot line, that is.
So here we are, a critique group critique group assembled around cups of coffee and sheaves of paper on a Saturday morning. A plot twist on page five. Clever, but defies normal logic. If the story occurred in real life, we would trot out the ‘stranger than fiction’ trope, shrug, and go on to the next part of the story. Not in critique group, though. Eyebrows raise. Greg voices the Kagan Rule: Fiction has to make sense; life doesn’t.
But … but … my plot twist is an actual event, I respond. Sure, I changed names and places but it didhappen.
Karl voices the Jorgenson Corollary, which he attributes to the courtroom: Truth is no excuse.
I guess I have to ditch the twist.
You ditch the twist only if you accept that one or both of them are correct…
Hmmmm. I’ll think on it. Right now, I’m on the verge of ditching a secondary character I really liked writing. These critique groups are tough … and helpful!
Actually, I was kidding. I totally agree with them. I hate plots that are not “believable.” Maybe there is a way to tweak the twist sufficient to save it.
Wow. Truth is no excuse.
What happened to fiction as its own picture of the truth?