One of the biggest problems I have with my writing is telling the story from a perspective other than the truth my own. Considering I write SF/F mostly in secondary worlds, the beliefs of the characters are going to be quite different from mine, and it’s a problem.
Because, like every other person I’ve ever met, I have some pretty strong opinions. On right and wrong. On science and religion. On truth and falsehood. On the world and people. You know, all those obvious, simple, little issues about which we write. And to a large extent, we wouldn’t hold those opinions if we didn’t believe in them… absolutely.
Which is ironic, considering that as writers, we try our very best to convince you, Dear Readers, that everything in our stories are true. Or, at least, true in the eyes of our characters. Which can be pretty damned hard if we believe them to be utter bollocks, ourselves. I mean, magic? Zombies? Space aliens? You don’t believe in that crap and neither do we. *wink-wink* Anybody who takes that stuff seriously has to be some kind of idiot, right? Wait, but didn’t you just tell me this character was a genius? Uh… maybe? For the story to really mean anything to a reader, the reader has to believe that these things are true for the characters—okay, some of the characters.
Remember that old saw: “Write what you know?” Well, we know pretty much that you can’t call fire with your mind, or transport your body across continents in an instant. But that’s not what we tell you guys. (I can see some hearts breaking here. Sorry, princesses, there’s no brooding undead bombshells out to get in your pants pink talking unicorns. And boys, you know those blasters you love so much? Well, let’s just say “Industrial Light and Magic” and leave it at that.)
But we tell you these things sure as hell do exist–and you’d better not try talking back to me mister. I may not be your mother, but you’re in my house, so we play by my rules. And my rules say I can obliterate armies with a gesture and blow up suns with quantum bombs, and I’ll damn well do it whenever I need to let off some steam Iget tired of you begging me for an ipod touch I feel like it it suits the story.
So, the tl;dr version is this: Writers lie for a living. I wouldn’t trust a writer with buying me a Snickers and neither should you. They’ll be back in an hour with a suspiciously shiny autographed copy of Finch and a story about aliens from the future with a homoerotic fascination with George Washington. (Apparently, aliens love powdery white wigs.)
So, the next time you get the urge to tell off your favorite author for promoting slavery or patriarchy or raman noodles with their fiction, remember: Some of the characters I write make me laugh, cackle and squee wince, cringe and leak spinal fluid trying to convince myself, just for a moment, that mortaring a wall with the blood of kidnapped Elvish children* will keep the nasty Underworlders from making war on heaven—and winning, Gods damn them! And other writers have felt the same.
* Tap their veins and hope to live, let the scabbing clog the sieve. 🙂 I love Elves, I love Elves, I love Elves. Honest, I do.