Fiction Rule

I hereby invoke Fiction Rule.

The simplest way of explaining Fiction Rule is this: Art imitates life, but it’s not a perfect mimic. Fiction is like reality, but there are distortions. Sometimes it makes things look better; sometimes it makes things look worse.

Fiction Rule allows a writer to bypass the mundane and skip over everyday processes. For instance, if someone opens a front door and the writer never says that it’s closed, the reader can usually safely assume that the door is closed after it is opened unless otherwise specified. If a character begins to make a cup of tea and later brings it to the table, it is assumed that the character completed the task of making tea to its end, and that he doesn’t come to the table with a cup of tea leaves and a cold tea kettle. We don’t need to see the whole process to understand that it has been done.

Fiction Rule means that characters don’t have to go to the bathroom or shower unless it’s relevant to the story. We assume that they take the time out of the narrative to do so. Or we assume that they have truly exceptional bladder control. Similarly, women don’t mention their period unless it’s relevant to the story, and men don’t mention everything that interests their penis unless it’s relevant to the story. We assume that the characters have them or that they are mild or nonexistent. Not having any of these things in a story does not detract from the narrative.

Fiction Rule means that, (again) unless it’s relevant to the plot, sex is usually good or great. Even in genres outside of conventional romance or erotica, consensual sex between the protag and the love interest is usually good. You see this especially in television and movies. I mean, really, how often is sex that good the first time together? How often do both people achieve orgasm in one session? Much less a simultaneous orgasm? Fiction Rule means that you can bypass some of the less fun kinds of sex. Fiction Rule means that good romance leads to an innate understanding of what might get the other person going.

Fiction Rule means that dialogue is linear and mostly stays on point. If you really pay attention to real life speech, you’ll notice that dialogue is full of stops and starts, stutters, fillers (like um, uh, erm, like, what, etc.), changing direction mid-sentence, losing your train of thought, and word replacement. But our brains are mostly pretty good with interpreting all of that as cohesive sentences. So fiction often presents what the brain interprets, not so much of what actually comes out of people’s mouths. As usual, sometimes a writer judiciously adds a few of these common speech patterns to add realism; however, adding it all only leads to confusion. As a subsection of this part of the rule, some fiction presents dialogue that is cleverer than the majority of people manage on a regular basis. This is permitted when it matches the tone of the narrative.

Fiction Rule means that a story ends. After the end of the story, there are blank pages and a back cover. Unless there are sequels or the story is part of a sequel, the story ends. And even then, there will eventually be an end. There will be a last back cover eventually. Real life doesn’t have an ending beyond death, and that’s just an individual’s end. Cause and effect won’t end until there is no more means for it (i.e. universe stops). Fiction usually follows a series of events. Sometimes it follows a lifetime. But in real life, most stories never end; Fiction creates the illusion of rising action, climax, and denouement, conclusion, end scene. But real life looks more like an EKG, a hilly mountain range. There’s always more story to come. But a book has to end, and so Fiction Rule means that there must be some kind of conclusion. (The kind-of exception is the non-ending ending. But it’s still an ending.)

Anything you would add to Fiction Rule?

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