Perception of reality…
Does your story provide it?
“Perception is everything,” some say. Clean a room, but leave everything askew and to the casual observer it doesn’t appear that it was cleaned at all.
Last weekend I attended a wedding. Between it and a dinner afterwards I stopped at The Home Depot. They sell hardware, lumber, appliances, etc. here in the States. Of course, dressed as I was I knew to expect odd reactions and was already laughing in the parking lot. Sure enough, I got some interesting stares and smiles.
People go to that store with certain expectations. They expect there to be lumber, nails, bolts, light fixtures, and all the rest. They also expect the other customers to dress as though they’re cleaning their garage or digging in the garden. And then I showed up and I imagine the perception to some was that my brain was slightly out of kilter.
Of course, providing that perception was unintentional.
What about writers and readers? One writes the story and the other reads it. Easy enough. That’s the connection. What’s shared? Hopefully the perception of reality. Without it the story isn’t believed and so not shared, not in the deepest sense.
And that’s a lot of work in the fantasy genre.
I’m still a reader, but it isn’t the same now, for my critical writer self reads the story and studies the craft. Sometimes I welcome the writer who is while mourning the reader who was, though I always appreciate the insights I gain. The wonder remains for me, but I also examine the skill…analyzing it, hopefully admiring it, and perhaps learning.
And now I’m trying my best to create and convey wonder to others.
There’s no fooling fantasy readers with well-developed magic, sweeping vistas in a well-built world, and amazing characters to cheer and jeer. At this point some are laughing, but that’s okay. I stand by the statement: none of those elements are enough to compel wonder in the reader.
Unless I believe in what I’m writing. Unless the world I’ve created comes not just from my head, but from my heart. If I don’t believe in Ontyre then no one else will. I have to live it and breath it. I have to travel there in spirit. If I don’t believe in the world I assembled then all I’ve created is a hollow, empty place devoid of the perception of reality.
That’s when it falls apart, because the reader will know. It’ll be that little voice they can’t shake until they set the story aside.
And so I’ll toil every hour I can and I’ll be honored to have the opportunity. And if in the end I create the place in my vision and I give it magic and vistas and characters and it all comes alive then we’ll have shared the reality in my head.