Fantasy Books Change the World, Too

It’s true most Fantasy readers read Fantasy for escapism.

I did and still do. That doesn’t mean Fantasy or other speculative fiction books don’t teach us lessons.

We can learn about human nature in any genre. 

Madeleine L’Engle’s Time Quintet made me question and eventually come to realize all people have intrinsic worth.

The Chronicles of Narnia has helped me and thousands of others explore our faith on a deeper level by pondering the nature of God (with talking horses and badass archer-queens for seasoning).

Ursula K. Le Guin’s complex and highly moral writing has lately led me to question the nature of old age. Is it truly a bad thing? As a Christian, I believe death is just a transformation into another existence, but old age?

The best time to change people’s minds is when they aren’t expecting it.

Books that directly address issues are needed, no doubt. But there are other times when the people who really need to hear a message won’t hear it unless it’s piggybacking on something else.

As a kid, I would never have read a book about racism. But I did read a book about magic ninjas, and the characters who had to struggle with racism got me thinking. Nor would I have read about the effects of imperialism, but the Tyrants and Kings trilogy wrapped the whole topic in the shiny bow of a sorcerous adventure.

Fantasy books have led me to more realizations than “real world” books ever did.

Escapism doesn’t mean it’s mindless. That’s something even Fantasy writers don’t seem to understand.

Fantasy and other speculative fiction books have the power to change hearts and minds while being entertaining and exciting as (I believe) no other genre can.

That’s their true magic.

 

It was JUST make-believe

When I was little, there was a “friend” who pretended to shoot my puppy with a toy gun.

When I got upset, I was told it was “just make-believe.” But it turns out that “friend” and the other children like him grew up to be adults who thought killing puppies was alright in reality.

The things we excuse in “make-believe,” we will excuse in real-life.

Maybe not immediately, but given enough time, it will happen. A kettle on low heat still boils if nothing changes. It’s not just with children playing, either.

This rule applies to books, movies, songs, TV, and other forms of entertainment, too. What we can justify happening in a story, we can justify in the real world.

Life reflects art and art reflects life.

When we find ourselves sympathizing with or wanting to emulate a story’s villains, when the line between protagonist and antagonist is blurred…we know there’s a problem.

We can’t ever let ourselves forget the difference between right and wrong. Not even in make-believe.

Genre Mislabeling: A Tale of Woe

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I have a request for the people of academia, the book bloggersphere, and the author community:

LEARN THE BASICS OF GENRE LABELING pretty please?

It would mean ever so much.

Namely, could people kindly learn the differences between “containing elements” of a genre and being part of that genre?

A part of me dies every time I see Dracula called a Romance.

It is not a Romance. Pride and Prejudice is a Romance. Romance novels should center around a couple’s individual attraction/love story. (Neither of those is the driving factor in the original Victorian classic.)

Romance novels MUST have a “happily ever after” ending*. That is universally agreed upon by the Romance Writers of America and every single Romance writer’s association out there. GOOGLE IT.

Dracula is a monster story, don’t let the highly derivative erotica fan fiction fool you.

Romance is the hottest genre on the market right now, so it makes sense people would try to leach off its success. But it’s false advertising, even if that happens with every popular genre.

Young Adult is more than having a >18 character. (Look at Game of Thrones.)

YA books are generally concerned with coming-of-age and self-discovery. There are also themes of growth and there should generally be a sense of hopefulness. Romeo and Juliet, for example, is not YA (or Romance).

YA books should also be less graphic than Adult.

As a general rule, if a scene/description is so graphic a kid would need permission from a legal guardian to see it on film, they probably shouldn’t be reading it.

That’s just common decency and logic.

Epic Fantasy is supposed to be EPIC.

It’s right there in the title. Epic Fantasy is, by definition and convention, supposed to take place in a separate world unconnected to ours.

It is also supposed to span years, at least. Some Epic series can span lifetimes or centuries. In the case of Tolkien, it spanned tens of thousands of years.

Fantasy/Paranormal get used interchangeably, but THEY ARE NOT THE SAME.

In Fantasy, the outlandish is the driving factor behind the story, setting, and characters. You are quite obviously not in our world. TWILIGHT IS NOT FANTASY!!!

Paranormal is less in-depth and often centers around ordinary humans interacting with the supernatural. However, there is still an obvious link to our contemporary reality.

Urban Fantasy takes elements of both. It focuses on the supernatural taking place within human cities and tends to have a large focus on romance without actually  being romance.

Fantasy: The Dresden Files, The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Dragonriders of Pern
Paranormal: The Black Dagger Brotherhood, Vampire Diaries
Urban Fantasy: Most books by Patricia Briggs and Charlaine Harris.

Genre can be sticky, it’s true. There are other times when it’s glaringly obvious.

For the sake of bestseller charts and “what to read next” lists everywhere, I am begging you all to AT LEAST TRY.

Some books flex genres and may have overlap in several, but there will always be a dominant, most suitable genre.

*People who are not Romance writers: Bram Stoker, Nicholas Sparks, Gaston Leroux, Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, John Green, etc.

COVER REVEAL: Fanged Rebel (Fanged, #4)

After barely escaping Arizona with their lives, Haddie, Damian, and Madelyn realize the time has come to fight the Vampire King, but they’ll need more friends—a lot more. The Faulkners call a meeting of Huntsmen to help recruit people who hate the Vampire King more than his wayward children. But Haddie and Damian’s mother shows up with her army-in-a-box, turning a negotiation into a hostage situation.

Now everyone is trapped in a hotel full of jumpy monster-killers and surrounded by hired  guns. When people start to go missing, it’s only a matter of time before the slaughter starts. Worse, they soon learn the Vampire King is getting impatient. He wants the unrest quelled and Damian—his heir—back in New England to put an end to this embarrassment. Either way, Haddie and her brother, their mother, and the Huntsmen will have to band together if they want to survive what’s coming.

Resistance wasn’t enough. It’s time for rebellion.

Coming December 12, 2017

What do you guys think? ARE YOU AS EXCITED AS ME?!?!?!

Top Ten Unrealistic Expectations from Fantasy Books

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It is well documented that the hopes laid out by Fantasy books are not always met. As a Fantasy author, I feel the duty to alert people to the dangers of unrealistic expectations and give a disclaimer as to what readers can expect in their non-literary lives.

1. Unrealistic Expectations of Pets

To date, I have owned three dogs, a mini horse, a donkey, a goat, and dozens of fish. Not a one of them has talked or turned out to be a lost royal in disguise. Sure, they still enriched my life and taught me a good deal of what I know about love, but who cares?

2. Unrealistic Expectations of Relationships

Fantasy books often dangerously teach us that love can last forever and people can stick it out through tough times. I mean, seriously?

3. Unrealistic Expectations of Politicians

There is obviously no way politicians are actual real people with feelings and emotions. Not like they’re human or anything.

4. Unrealistic Expectations of Inanimate Objects

My coffee pot has yet to walk across my table and pour my morning dose of caffeine. Then again, it might help if I owned a coffee pot.

5. Unrealistic Expectations of Parents

Everybody knows parents fail you. Most the time, fantasy books are pretty good about this, but every so often…they sneak in the idea that families can be FUNCTIONAL.

6. Unrealistic Expectations of Schools

Most schools don’t have werewolf professors, ancient curses, or vampire students. I know, it was disappointing for me, too.

7. Unrealistic Expectations of Mentors

None of my professors or mentors has yet to reveal themselves as a secret warlock sent to watch over me since birth. I’ve kept asking, but no.

8. Unrealistic Expectations of Food

Where is my bread that fills me up after one bite? I need that stuff. I’m a college student, damn it.

9. Unrealistic Expectations of Cutlery

Real knives and swords are breakable, just FYI. I learned this the hard way.

10. Unrealistic Expectations of Nature

To date, I have yet to find a water sprite, tree god, or fortuitously placed stream that leads to Faerie. I’m not quite ready to give up on that last one, though…

There you have it. Sorry, but we live on Earth. At least, we do to my knowledge. Are there any other unrealistic expectations people should be aware of?

Review: Dorian’s Game (The Cat’s Eye Chronicles, #0.5) by T.L. Shreffler

Dorian’s life has always been a bit quiet and uneventful — that is, until he meets Adelaide Warde.

Determined to find a sacred relic in the nearby mines, Adelaide enlists Dorian as a guide. However, there is another in search of the relic — a mysterious traveler named Crash, who hopes to use the relic to escape his past.

Suddenly caught up in a conflict he wants no part of, who will Dorian help? The woman who has stolen his heart, or a stranger in need?”

*Fans of The Cat’s Eye Chronicles can now read the story of how Burn, Dorian and Crash met, and how Volcrian’s hunt truly began!

Blurb and cover from Goodreads

My rating: 5/5

I fell in love with this series years ago when I lived in the middle of nowhere and had to use my library’s WiFi to download books on my Kindle. This series has been an addiction, an obsession, an escape, and an inspiration.

The plot:

This is one of those stories where I thought I knew where it would go and that’s not where it went at all. Readers of the series know generally how it ends, but there were still many questions and surprises. It was incredibly how the author pulled it off.

The pacing:

Shreffler has developed a remarkable pacing ability. These stories feel much longer than they are (in a good way) because there is so much we discover. She writes in a way that keeps the reader engaged and guessing.

I read this in a single day, getting up at 5 a.m. to read if before school, cramming 5 minute reading sessions between classes, and late into the night.

IT WAS THAT GOOD.

The characters:

Dorian didn’t really connect with me in the first book. I didn’t really develop an emotional connection. In this one, that all changes. We get to see more of his personable history and thoughts and it was truly moving.

The rest of the cast was no exception. The familiar characters became more lovable and the new ones quickly became sympathetic. I came to care deeply even for the ones I knew would die and even some of the villains. The complexity, individualism, and development of the cast was incredible.

Overall:

I am still so, so, so in love with this series. It’s amazing to see how far this author has come and I can’t wait to see what she does next! I wholly recommend anything by her and she’s one of perhaps only three of my “auto buy” authors.

Top Five Favorite Author Bromances

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Authors are (often accurately) stereotyped as introverted observers of the world around them. However, no man (or woman) is an island and no art is ever made in a vacuum. Authors need support groups, too, and literary friendships are to thank for most of our language’s great classics.

J.R.R. Tolkien & C.S. Lewis

It’s no secrets these two legends were friends. Their weekly meetings with a group of fellow creatives at Oxford are near legendary in their own right. These gentlemen would all gather at a local pub and shoot ideas off one another for hours.

If I had a time machine…

Sarah J. Maas & Susan Dennard

Better known as the YA authors of Throne of Glass and Truthwitch, these two ladies have been friends since before they both broke into the spotlight. I’m sure it’s no coincidence sororal friendship plays such a huge part in both their books!

Robert E. Howard & H.P. Lovecraft

You may not know their names, but you know their characters: Conan and Cthulhu. Howard wrote repeatedly to Lovecraft, often speaking of his difficulties with publishers and characters alike.

It’s because of this friendship we know much of Howard’s feelings towards his work and what he was thinking during certain projects. For example, he often complained about the sexualization of the Conan stories.

(I’m almost glad he never saw where the franchise has ended up.)

Charlotte Brontë & Emily Brontë

The Brontë siblings were all writers, including Emily and Charlotte’s brother and third sister. Growing up the sheltered children of a remote village pastor, the Brontë children were often left to their own devices with only one another as playmates.

Raised in the ethereal landscape of England’s moors, the young Brontës all developed splendid imaginations. These imaginations are to thank for Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre. Though all four of the Brontë siblings died young and without children of their own, their literary legacies have been enshrined in print, TV, and film and are studied in classrooms around the world.

Lord Byron & Mary Shelley

Yes, the mind who brought us the first Sci-Fi novel and the enigmatic, womanizing poet were friends (perhaps more?). Legend has it that the pair began writing Frankenstein and Manfred one rainy evening in Switzerland as part of a bet.

Interestingly, Byron’s friend and physician, William Polidori, was also there. Polidori, though virtually unknown, is credited with writing the first vampire story, simply titled “The Vampyre.”

The muse was strong that night!

What are some of your favorite author friendships? Artist friendships? Let’s hear ’em!

Review: Orpheum (Orpheum, #1) by D.S. Murphy @Creativindie

28933298.jpgI always knew music was powerful. Even though I rebelled against the marathon forced practice sessions that turned my adolescence into a prison camp, there were moments–even in the mechanical repetition of practice–where I stopped being a robot and felt a kind of transcendence, a connection to something deeper.

But that was before I learned what music really was, and that it was capable of more than just pretty feelings. That it was a weapon, which could cause great pain and destruction; that it was deeper and older than humanity; and that there were forces in the world that wanted to reclaim it for themselves.

And there’s something beyond the music, something darker and more violent. Something waiting to be invited, something only I can control. I’m more powerful than I ever could have imagined, but the price is something – and someone – I can’t bear to lose.

This is PART ONE of the first book in the series.

Blurb and cover from Goodreads

My rating: 4/5

I thought I didn’t like this book. I was thinking it was alright, but I wasn’t involved in the characters.

Then it turned out to be a sampler and I WAS FURIOUS. I WANT THE WHOLE BOOK. I WANT THE REST OF THE DAMN STORY, DAMN IT.

The plot:

This is an author who emphasizes the importance of story in writing to build emotional connect. I was thinking it wasn’t working out that well, but my outrage upon reaching the end says otherwise. You win, Murphy.

The world building in particular was unexpected and different. I read this just a few weeks after a trip to Eastern Europe and I think that was a big part of what kept me reading even when I wasn’t “feeling it.” You don’t often think of Greco-Roman history in Bulgaria, Moldova, and Romania, but it’s there along with Ottoman.

I have read about Orpheus and the maenads and it was thrilling to find a story that incorporates them so originally. I certainly didn’t expect incorporation of sparagmos and that got a big “hell yes” from me.

The characters:

Samantha reminds me of a lot of young people I’ve met. They devote themselves wholeheartedly to one path, not considering there could be multiple paths to the same goal. It frustrates the hell out of me, but it happens. Nonetheless, it took me a while to warm up to her.

I’m really not feeling the attraction between her and the love interest. I know it’s supposed to be there, but…it feels forced. I think it would be a better story if it were YA fantasy and the romance was just allowed to develop over the series.

Besides the love interest, I do think the side characters were empathetic, even the villains. It’s strange, come to think of it.

Despite my issues, I do want to read the whole thing. Joke’s on me for not reading the end of the damn blurb. All the same, SOMEBODY BETTER GIVE ME THE WHOLE BOOK.

Find Orpheum on Goodreads

Find Orpheum on Amazon

What Books Get Wrong About Horses by Jadie Jones

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They say to write what you know.

I don’t entirely agree with this notion. In my case, as a Georgia born and raised horse girl, that should mean horses, religion, fried food, and southern accents.  My current work in progress is a serial killer crime thriller set in rural Oregon, and I’ve never met a serial killer (that I know of, anyway.)

However, there is some truth in it. When we write about something we know inside and out, we bring an authenticity to our characters and their worlds that someone speculating about the same topic may not fully understand.

Like a doctor watching Grey’s Anatomy, “horse people” can typically tell in a chapter or two whether or not a “horse story” has been written by someone who has actually worked with the animals versus someone who has admired them from afar.

I polled a few of my fellow professional equestrians to see what horse-related glaring errors stood out to them in novels where horses are featured. I warn you, we east-coast english trainers are a snarky bunch, who apparently love our horse stories, especially when they portray the life of horses and those who care for them in a realistic light.

1. Super vocal horses.

I now live with three horses, and have seen hundreds in my life time. My horses whinny at me—because I feed them twice a day. So when they see me, it’s like seeing the hotdog vendor at a ballgame.

This is not love or affection.

This is: hey food lady, throw me something good. Some horses are more vocal than others. I have a thoroughbred mare right now that squeals and hollers and carries on for days when there’s a new horse on property, while other horses only whinny for food or if they see another horse coming.

Horses will “blow” if they feel threatened, snort if they have dust up their nose, but seldom does a horse whinny to its rider while being ridden, or nicker in their hair, etc. I have had horses who will “groom” back if you scratch an itchy spot, but this can lead into a not so pleasant rake of the teeth—which hurts like #*%^ when it’s on your scalp. I’m just saying.

2. Galloping for miles and miles and miles.

In real life, this could seriously injure or kill a horse that isn’t bred and/or conditioned for endurance, and even still, there’s a limit.

Also, riding on a galloping horse takes strength and balance. I’m not sure I could ride a galloping horse for a solid hour without any breaks into a different gait, much less half a day.

3. That the big expense is buying the horse.

No. Just no. Unless you’re buying a $100,000+ imported warmblood, your monthly expenses are quickly going to make that initial purchase price look like you overspent at the dollar store.

And even if you dropped a hundred grand on a fancy horse, chances are you aren’t going to keep it in your backyard.

Board is expensive, ranging anywhere from $250-$2500 a month. Horses’ feet need to be trimmed/shod every 6-8 weeks.

Routine vet care is several hundred dollars a year, and emergent care will quickly rack up thousands of dollars in bills. Supplements, tack, supplies… I swear being willing to “go for broke” is an expression begun in the aisle of a horse barn.

We don’t travel much or have nice furniture, and the last time I was in a salon of any sort was about two years ago because a lot of our “spending money” gets eaten (and then pooped out, which I have to then clean up…if we’re going for honesty here.)

4. Along with the expense, horses are a very time-consuming hobby.

They require more attention and maintenance than almost any other domestic livestock/pet/etc. I can think of. So when these protagonists have horses and also an abundance of free time, it’s a big red flag.

Most horses eat twice a day.

Some horses require more frequent, smaller meals.

And whatever goes in must also come out, so every day, that protagonist better have a pitchfork in her hand or money to pay someone else to do it. Some horses are blanketed for wet and/or cold weather. Tack needs to be cleaned. Trailers maintained. Aisles swept. Feed/hay ordered. Troughs/buckets checked, dumbed, scrubbed, refilled.

Flies. So many flies.

If you’re in a farm with no flies, you’re either in a really nice, fully insulated barn, or you’re in a fantasy world.

Now I’m thinking if I ever write a fantasy novel with a barn in it, I’m going to have a fantastical explanation for not having a single fly, because that sounds like heaven…

5. The never-ridden-a-horse-before-girl is the only one who can tame the never-ridden-and-dangerously-aggressive horse.

This is a sweet concept, but it’s a situation where said rider is going to end up in the dirt over and over if she’s lucky, and then the hospital when that luck runs out.

Yes, some people have more natural talent than others. That could be said for any sport. However, the basketball is going to give anyone who holds it an equal opportunity, and isn’t going to be offended if you bumble around while you learn to handle it.

Most horses care.  An unbroke horse is really going to care.

This actually leads to a legitimate problem when a horse enthusiast reads a book about another horse enthusiast who adopts a wild mustang/ex race horse/horse bound for slaughter, and then expects the horse to be so grateful for being adopted that the horse will let them do whatever whenever, and that it should follow them around like an oversized puppy and never take a wrong step.

A horse has no idea what you expect of it when you buy it. To be frank, people die and are injured for life in this industry—professionals who have had decades of experience and sat on thousands of horses.

No one is immune to gravity.

Becoming skilled takes time and the help of an educated rider/trainer. This leads to a lot of confused, frustrated, “green-broke” horses who then end up changing hands over and over, or even back on the auction block, and can be such a negative experience for the horse-enthusiast that their dream of owning/riding a horse becomes a thing of the past, especially if they were hurt badly in the process.

6. And if the said wild/dangerous horse loves you, it is going to come find you in the burning barn/dark woods full of wolves and cougars/dangling from a tree branch over a river and help save your life.  

Nope. That horse is more likely on the hunt for a patch of green grass. It’s considered nice when a horse doesn’t run off after dumping you.

7. Mismatching tack.

And no, I don’t mean clashing colors.

When it comes to horses, what you can “dress” them in could fill a catalog—and does… many, many catalogs.

There are also many disciplines of riding: western pleasure, gaming, racing, English pleasure, hunter/jumper, dressage, western dressage, equitation, competitive trail riding… the list goes on and on.

When a rider in a story is grabbing the horn of a western saddle before kicking her horse over a four foot jump in a show ring, we have a problem.

It would be like a doctor asking for a drill instead of a scalpel to cut open a surgical patient. The key here is this: whatever it is you’re writing about, make sure you’re studying up on your details.

8. Position.

I don’t even know where to start. Wait, yes I do. There’s a book series my daughter loves about a girl and a mystical pony.

They have an “instabond” (which I’ll touch on next) and this girl who has never ridden before learns how to maneuver on horseback.

Now it helps that this girl and this pony can literally speak to each other, and I appreciate that the author makes her struggle a bit. However, as girl and pony are approaching a very large otherworldly obstacle, this girl pinches her knees in, draws her leg up, and leans up the pony’s neck several strides out in preparation to jump.

In the real world, one of three things would happen:

  1. This is an awesome pony who is considered a “babysitter, and can take a joke, so it finds the distance on its own and has a nice flat jump and a balanced landing so they make it to the other side unscathed.
  2. Pony adds in an extra half step (called a “chip”) because there’s no contact from the rider and all her weight is too forward so the pony has to throw in a step due to lack of balance and impulsion, and then the rider is probably at least going to fall on the pony’s neck or get wacked in the face.
  3. Pony throws on the breaks and drops its head, and the girl flies off and jumps the jump all by her lonesome. If you are going to have your characters ride, and you do not ride the discipline you’re writing about, I would highly advise at least reading one training book focused on the discipline you’re using in your story.

9. Instalove/instabond.

Many readers take issue with the “Insta-love” connections that seem prevalent in current YA/NA lit, especially fantasy novels.

The same can be said for “insta-love” depicted in fantasy novels where the horse and protagonist are in beautiful harmonious sync from step one.

Now, I have “fallen in love” with a horse on sight before. But these horses have never “fallen in love” immediately with me (or possibly even ever. I’m still on the fence about whether “love” is an appropriate word here, but for this sake of this point, we’ll consider  it a strong bond.)

I also know what I’m looking for. I like a dominant mare with an uphill build, a shorter back, a low hip, expressive ears, a more refined head, and kind eyes.

This does not mean under any circumstance that I am going to know everything about this horse before I get on, or even during the first ride, or the tenth. A lot of horses are like onions in that they are layered, and you’re not going to ask a horse to perform every task you expect of it on the first ride (unless you’re trying a horse to buy, then by all means run that critter through the gauntlet.)

Still, as you develop your own communication with the animal, what you understand about each other, what you ask of each other, and how you answer will evolve. This is a process.

It does not happen in a single ride. Ever.

There are exceptions to every rule, and a story to prove it. Otherwise, where would these fantastical ideas come from?

I fully believe our imaginations are searching a collective unconscious for long forgotten histories and truths, and I have no doubt somewhere, some time ago, a girl saw a wild horse grazing in a field, and she jumped on, and when they raced away it was utter magic for all who saw it.

Why else are we all still mystified and enamored with that indescribable, undefinable thing that happens between humans and horses?

About the Author

Jadie JonesYoung-adult author. Equine professional. Southern gal. Pacific Northwest Transplant. Especially fond of family, sunlight, and cookie dough.​​

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Check out her latest release below!

Tanzy Hightower is not crazy. At least, that’s what she tells herself. Crazy looks more like her mother, who studies each sunrise with the same fascination other women give tabloid magazines in the grocery store checkout line. Crazy sounds like the woman on the radio claiming there’s a whole separate world existing parallel to our own. Still, Tanzy can’t deny the tingle of recognition she feels each time she sees her mother standing at the kitchen window, or hears the panic in the woman’s voice coming through the speakers of her father’s truck.

Tanzy intends to follow her father’s footsteps into the professional horse world. But the moment she watches him die on the back of a horse in an accident she feels responsible for, everything changes.

On the first anniversary of his death, a fight with her mother drives her back to her father’s farm in the middle of a stormy night. Neither Tanzy nor life as she knows it escapes unchanged when she is struck by lightning and introduced to a world… unseen, and receives proof her father’s death was no accident.

Two strangers seem too willing to help her navigate her new reality: Vanessa Andrews, a psychiatrist who believes lightning chooses who it strikes, and Lucas, a quiet, scarred stable hand with timing that borders on either perfect or suspect. But Tanzy has secrets of her own. Desperate for answers and revenge, Tanzy must put her faith in their hands as her past comes calling, and her father’s killer closes in.

There Are NEVER Two Sides to Any Story

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“Two sides to every story” is a phrase I hear thrown around a lot—in politics, relationships, history…and writing.

Authors talk all the time about showing “both” sides to a conflict or event in their stories. While I give them partial credit, that’s a little under-ambitious.

In real human events—wars, kids’ soccer games, elections, marriages, Supreme Court trials, first dates, and everything else—there is a lot more going on than either group will know/realize/admit.

I don’t believe “two sides” ever gives a whole story.

I would even say there are no “sides,” only the perception of sides.

In a family argument, members might split into two factions, but each person will probably have their own take on why they’re fighting at all.

What I see in arguments is people tend to split into two groups with their own (mostly true) versions of the situation. But neither is the whole truth or pure truth. Omission and falsehoods inevitably get thrown in.

As someone who writes almost entirely from single perspectives, it can be hard to express complicated scenarios. I try to show that there are things the protagonist doesn’t understand/know, but it’s really up to the reader to spot that.

Every story we read is but a slice of a much bigger story.

Even the most in-depth, detailed tome leaves out more than it includes. The fact is, it’s simply impossible to know everything that happened, even for the author, even in an imaginary tale.

The exact slant of wrinkles in the skin, the instant a person made up their mind, the number of door mice beneath a hardwood floor, the sharpness of the tools used to harvest the tea on the table—something is always unknown.

Unknowns may be great or small, but they are never absent.

When it comes to the “whole” story, the protagonist doesn’t know, the writer may not know, and the reader can only guess.

Mystery is one reality that no fiction can change.