Sincerity in Fiction
When it comes to writing, there is truth and there is a higher truth, the true essence of truth. The first is recreating a tableau in words with a slavish dedication to accuracy and detail. The latter is adhering to a thematic honesty, using those elements of truth with a ferocity of purpose to tell a greater truth, whether the motive be to capture a heart, an audience, or the essence of a genre.
You might say words are words and there is no difference. There is a difference in intent. There is a difference in purpose. This difference may not be clear to you, but the writer’s heart knows the difference when they write. I will argue that you can feel the difference in the writer’s words regardless.
What is not included is every bit important as what is included.
If you have a western with no horses, is it still a western? A space opera with no starships? A tragedy with no tears?
The answer to the above is a qualified yes. The qualification depends upon the writer’s vision. What truth do they wish to tell? Where do they want to direct your eye? What truth do they need to tell?
In the interactive medium of the roleplaying game, the question can easily be what story do you want to tell? This is a topic I should likely delve into more in the future. Many people wish to create a world, but a world without meaning, without conflict, provides little incentive for adventure. Why do you want us to spend time in your world? What truth do you have to tell?
I’ll argue one of the greatest fantasy works I’ve ever read is the Gormenghast Trilogy. You’ll find no fancy wizards. No great battles. No great heroes. No sprawling quests. No magnificent landscapes. Nary a dragon in sight. Indeed, you’ll discover palace intrigue, a cast of oddities, and an antihero simultaneously repulsive and captivating all in an ancient, crumbling castle oozing with legacy. This work resonates because it is true. The first book is the best. The others follow well in form.
When I approach a writing project, I always seek a truth to tell. Find yours and do the same.
Think wisely. Write well.
Until next time, I bid you, dear reader, adieu.