This showed up on my Facebook feed and got me thinking – what makes authors different is that we reject reality and choose to create our own. Whether is historical, genre or literary fiction, it may start with reality and then goes on to create an alternate version.

What I can tell from reading and my own writing is that everything starts with what I have begun to think of as the great ‘WHAT IF?’

  • What would it be like if you could read the minds of everyone around you? That became Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse series.
  • What if you are a DJ who is bitten by a werewolf? This, of course, is Carrie Vaughn’s Kitty Norville.
  • What if you are a Chinese student who is in the US during the Tiannamen Protests? That became Ha Jin’s semi-biographical A FREE LIFE.

So, I guess the question for anyone that puts pen to paper to create these alternate worlds is ‘Why?’ What leads fiction authors to create these new realities?

Having tried my hand the last few years, I’ve come to appreciate the difficulties involved. Different genres have their own problems.

  • Historical fiction obviously is constrained by actual events. When I wrote “Home” I had to research the paths of a specific unit, even though I only mention it once.
  • Fantasy and science fiction has the challenge of building worlds from scrap that are believable but sufficiently different to not be our existence with new names.
  • The most difficult may be horror which requires you to create a world within a world. To scare a reader, they have to see the possibility in their life even though it is a fiction.

I don’t really have a conclusion to all of this. It may continue in another post. Until then you might want to look at the problem of when the new reality takes over which I wrote about in his piece of flash fiction –

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