Don’t let reality get in the way

Reality: “the state of things as they actually exist, as opposed to an idealistic or notional idea of them” – Oxford English Dictionary

I put forth to you, dear reader, that reality is all a matter of perception. There is nothing that actually “exists” in an absolute sense. Human beings are well known to have faulty wiring – we can be convinced we have memories of events that never happened to us, for example.

Idealism is a far better state of mind. Idealism allows you to imagine the best and worst of people, and life. ‘Notional ideas’ lead to stories. Finite reality is a limiter for a writer, we should never be bound by what it is real.

Jules Verne had never heard of or seen a submarine in “real life” because none existed before he created the concept of one for 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

When you write, let your imagination run amok. Rather than reality being your guide, defy reality and think up the most ridiculous notions: a boy and his two friends going to wizarding school; a man on death row who can read other people’s minds and heal others at will; a man stuck in the same day over and over again until he changes enough to become the man that the woman he loves wants to marry… and so on.

Stories are the stuff of make believe mixed in with strange sign posts of the familiar. Stories take us by the hand and say, come this way down the path… oh, now we need to take a turn here.

What stories have you read that make you love the author’s use of the familiar to guide you into the unfamiliar? And how has that shaped you as a writer?

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