As fiction writers our job is a delicate balance between making a tale that is believable but not boring. Inevitably, no matter what you are reading you are going to run into little things that make you think, “Well that wouldn’t happen.” Or, “That’s unlikely.” Get over it and enjoy the Story.
Story is what it’s all about, not realism. If it was real, Darth Vader would have gone home, become a wife beater, and had more illegitimate children. Luke would have run away, joined the military, and ended up fixing army droids while strung out on deathsticks. Those are boring things that have nothing to do with saving the Galaxy.
If you want realism, go down to the food-court at the mall and sit awhile, or shop at Wall-mart. Sit down, and watch it unfold. Story is something more. Sure, it may have some of those same characters in it, and there may be some of the mundane. But if it’s just people going about their lives, it’s probably going to be a memoire or a documentary. A series of events that are loosely related and meander here and there. That’s not actually Story, and that’s a book to nod off to late at night. Those are the kind of movies, that when they end, you find yourself thinking, “That’s the end? Really? WTF?”
Story grips you and never lets go. When you find Story, you get on the ride and there’s no getting off until it comes to a complete and final stop.
This reminds me of the teacher comments on report cards that came in during second and third grade.
“Excessive Day Dreaming” <triple underline>
Owl looked over the water as the boat bobbed up and down rhythmically. His eyes pierced the darkness, scouring out every detail that the moonlight could reveal to him. Kat watched him closely as he swayed back and forth in time with the waves.
“Do you see it?” She asked.
Owl remained silent. His large glossy eyes glinted in silvery light. He reached into a bag that lay in the center of the small rowboat, dug around in it clumsily, and pulled up a thick package. In doing so, the bag tipped over and bundles of cash spilled into a small puddle of water that sloshed back and forth. He scooped them up quickly and deposited them back into the bag.
“Where did you get all of that?” Kat asked.
“Shut up.” Owl said. He didn’t have to say any more. Kat knew that the revolver was still tucked inside the dirty wool jacket that he wore, so she kept her peace.
The river current dragged them downstream, and time passed the same for Kat. Dragged along unwillingly, she was going toward what she could only think of was her end. At the water’s edge the land rose gradually up to rolling hills where crops of grain grew. The light breeze that disturbed the wide river also created waves in the tall weaving strands of barley and rye.
What seemed as hours passed. The landscape changed little until around a wide bend in the river, a concrete landing jutted out into the riverbank, and a road wound up into the hillside. Towering above, looking out over everything, stood a single silo.
Owl grunted at the sight, and began rowing toward the landing. The boat scraped and ground over the cement, at last coming to a stop. Owl jumped out and pulled the bow ashore even more. Kat rose on unsteady legs, her world moving with the river, though the boat was still.
When you’re young nothing can touch you. If you think you can do something, you don’t doubt that you can.
I stood on the edge of the roof and looked down. I knew that I could fall and maybe even die. But I wasn’t scared. No I wasn’t even shaky. I shuffled my feet to the edge so that the toes hung over the emptiness. That heightened the sense of danger. I didn’t feel fear. I just felt the rush of excitement at impending doom, at my ability to face it and defy it. Yeah I was invincible.
And the time old man Rabinsky came riding up on his black horse to our house threatening to blow us up with the stick of dynamite in his belt. I stood him down, and he pulled out that big 44 magnum and put a bullet into the ground six feet away from me so close that the dirt came up and stung my arm. My knees betrayed me, my voice clogged in my throat, my body froze, but inside all was calm–because I knew I couldn’t die. I knew that I was invincible.
And that day I rode on the side of the tractor, and my hands rested on the side of the loader. I heard the sound of the hydraulics and felt the steel scissor down and rest for a microsecond on the back of my fingers. I pulled them out in a blink of an eye and watched the trap close on empty space. Yeah, I prided myself on my quickness, and I knew I was invincible.
But when I was grown and my son lay on his bed so sick he couldn’t lift his head, I was scared. I knew something had changed. For the fear was in me, and I would never be the same. I would never be invincible again.