Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Facts Are Your Friends

Facts tend to get in the way, don't they? You're on a roll with your story, the scenes are flowing, the dialogue is pithily bouncing from one character to another, the logic of the action seems to be seamless. And then, here comes good ole' reality, ready to send all your beautiful fictional work into digital oblivion.

This happened to me just the other day. I was working on a scene for the third installment in Willa's adventures and I had my two characters traveling from Point A to Point B the day before Thanksgiving. That's when I realized that if they were going to where they were supposed to be going (no spoilers!) they would end up there ON Thanksgiving, in which case everything would be closed. Well, I had already written detailed scenes of them shopping, eating at restaurants and generally participating in the commerce of their chosen city, and I wasn't about to have them sitting around twiddling their thumbs, national holiday or no national holiday. Time to go back and consult the travel schedules, the maps, the  logistical whathaveyous again. Time to massage the timeline to make it all work.

These were small but important facts, which probably only affected the first chapter or two of the manuscript. No, they wouldn't make or break the story, but they were a reminder that, as caught up as I was in the fantasy, I still had to play along by the rules of reality or risk losing my credibility as a storyteller.

How about you? Where have the "facts" gotten you into trouble?

Elisa Ludwig's debut young adult novel PRETTY CROOKED (Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins), was released in March. It's the story of Willa Fox, a teen girl who goes Robin Hood on her rich classmates, and it's the first of a trilogy. Even though she had to extensively research pickpocketing techniques to write it, she remains a law-abiding citizen. Elisa lives in Philadelphia with her husband Jesse.

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