Last Saturday on Psychological Sizzle, in a post titled Home is Where the Sizzle Is, I
blathered raved about one of my favourite movies, The Sixth Sense.
Writing the post prompted me to watch the movie. The comments, and one comment in particular from a new reader, prompted me to plug in the Special Features disk, and to write this post.
I’m of an opinion. Yes, I know that’s shocking coming from this mousy, shy little pipsqueak of a writer–SNORT!–but I do have one. And yes, I’ll be happy to ram it… er, share it with you. Ready?
There is no true fiction.
Ground-breaking, I know.
The adage, write what you know, isn’t–again with my opinions–something we should practice with absolute conviction. Ever watch a friend’s home movies? Ever mentally add clothespins to your letter to Santa so you can keep your eyelids open?
Real life, aside from the odd bump in the night or rattle of chains, is BORING.
Real life, in all of it’s thrill-sucking glory, does not make good fiction.
Except for the times when it does make good fiction.
Case in point, THE VISIT. Item #10 in STORYTELLER’S table of contents, this story, pulled straight from my 12-year-old life, was previously published online at New Mystery Reader.
Yes. Straight from my 12-year-old life, for real and for true, except for the last few paragraphs where the truth is revealed. The revelation was what the revelation was, but in real life, the revelation did not come to light for another 12 hours.
As an author, I had a choice: blather on about a ‘sick’ day, watching TV, reading, snoozing and other at-home-playing-hooky-during-a-blizzard activities or…
deliver my reader to the twisty-turvy truth post haste, and,
empower the AHA moment so the reader would be as certain as I, many many moons later, am certain, that what most certainly did take place, most certainly could not have. Two truths, in direct conflict and complete synchronicity at the same time.
There you have it. I fictionalized a true event. Or rather, I fictionalized a slice of a true event.
There is a little of a writer in every character they create, a little of their own experience in every plot they weave. In THE VISIT, it was a slice, a sliver, of the truth that was changed. In my novel, HOMECOMING, the opposite occurred. The story grew from a tiny seed of truth, planted in the creativity-rich soil of my imagination.
Or, as those who know me best might say, the story took shape in the belfry where the bats doth reside.
Back to The Sixth Sense. Back to M. Night Shyamalan and his twisted Hitchcockian ways.
Says the writer/director in an interview (clip below):
“…each movie, you want to tell a little bit about who you are or a part of your life.”
Great advice, for directors, screenplay writers, and for novelists.
Further into the clip, Shyamalan relates a story from his childhood, and the resonating image from that experience. The experience influenced a scene in The Sixth Sense that bares little resemblance to the actual story that inspired the scene.
It is the essence of the experience, more than the facts and fine details, that made it to film.
Be they real experiences, visions or dreams that impress us, those defining moments of truth are alive with the psychological sizzle that haunt us into our waking hours in search of deeper meaning, in search of clarification.
And if you ask me, reality is the stuff the very best fiction is made of.
Do you have a dream or experience that has the sizzle to become a great story?