Fiction offers truth more than all the facts. Emerson said, “Fiction reveals truth that reality obscures.” After him, Stephen King said, “Fiction is the truth inside the lie.” If you can’t lie, how can you write fiction and how can you tell that internal truth?
Take a simple news story with two policemen driving with the head of a doll on their car’s antenna Sherry Dyson . This news story may be disturbing to some in the news media, but it has possibilities for fiction. Now, how can you lie about this news and tell an impacting truth inside your lie?
Quite a few possibilities exist. The doll’s head could be a real head and the two policemen could be mob members, and you have the initial idea for a murder/mystery story. The doll’s head could be a voodoo doll’s head that can come to life and perform supernatural acts to scare people, including the two policemen in the car. This should make a good horror story. Conversely, the two policemen could be aliens dressed as policemen, and anyone who approached their car could be transported through a time machine to a distant galaxy. This could be a science fiction story. Better yet, you might take the news story as is and develop the characters of the two policemen and write a literary story, showing approval or disapproval for the way they act.
Truth is, any news story can be turned into fiction, and you can tell the inside truth of it with more power than the original news.
After you come up with the main idea but before you start on the complications of your story, make sure to have the setting and character portrayals in place. Most writers are pretty good in finding the initial idea with or without the news stories, but when it comes to developing the story, some get stuck. If, such a thing happens why not look inside daily life to fabricate the complications?
Think of simple events that complicated your life. Maybe your shoe strap broke while you reported to your boss at work. Maybe your insurance company dropped you for no reason. Maybe your quick-tempered mother called and complained of your uncaring attitude. These facts can be interesting blog material, but if you used them in fiction as they are, who would read it?
Here your writing license comes in handy. You will need to exaggerate and lie about the complication until it becomes more exciting than what it was in real life. For example, your broken shoe strap could be the policemen’s car tires getting a flat while they dealt with an angry crowd; or if you are writing the science fiction story, the transporter beam could malfunction and people in transport could find themselves in a totally different part of the universe.
A complication or series of complications build the conflict to create the drama, and they are especially powerful when they spring from the strength or the weakness of your main character. Let us look at a few ways of handling and plotting complications.
If you solve the complication right away or too easily, the reader will regret that he bothered to read the story, wondering if this is all there is. An example would be, in the science fiction story, if you minimized the complication and then let the people land in a friendly planet to live happily ever after.
If the complication is solved through coincidence or by an act of God or a secondary character finding the way out, readers will feel cheated, and the editors will send you a rejection slip. If we stick with the science fiction story, some examples to this would be: An interstellar storm hits the transporter and things get fixed on their own, like magic, or another spaceship appears out of the blue and fixes the transporter, and all is well with the universe.
Novice writers tend to depend on the coincidence or chance happening a lot, especially when they plot themselves into a hole and cannot figure a way to get out of it. If this happens, concentrate on the main character. Considering his traits, how would the protagonist solve this problem or sink deeper into it? Remember to have no easy solutions and no mercy for the main character. The more trouble he is in, the more exciting the story. Even Eleanor H. Porter let the candied optimist Pollyanna lose the use of her legs and sink into depression. Then, she made her fight to find her old self again