Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Anything Can Happen - If I Say It Can

Todays post is also found as a guest post at

When he woke up Andy had a horrible headache centered in the back of his head, just behind and below his ears. It didn’t help that The Ring of his tinnitus was louder than ever. Somehow it made him think of a futuristic time bomb in his head, ramping up to vaporize his brain. He wondered if it would all be internal or if there would actually be grey matter on the walls after. In addition, it was time to write his guest post for, and make up for lost time on his #NaNoWriMo piece.

And so he wrote: Anything can happen if I say it can.

I recently read a fine post on this same site Let’s Talk About Your Premise, by Jason Black. It dealt with the idea that one’s audience will accept one major suspension of disbelief. The author described this as the writer’s “Freebie”. That really resonated with me. I think it bears revisiting in perhaps a little different voice because well, he made a lotta sense and I know how much trouble some of us have with that. I think that it could be said as well of life in general. He went on further to say that once you have established your freebie, any consequent fantastic concepts would generally be accepted IF they follow the internal logic of the first unbelievable premise. “Sure there can be a wyvern, I already told you, there is magic in this world”.

The other day, while lounging half asleep – OK so I was writing, but lounging half asleep sounded better… While lounging half asleep with the tv on, because I was too lazy to turn it off, I overheard parts of an episode of Vegas. Apparently Tom Selleck, I don’t know his character’s name, had just bought the Montecello, the casino around which the show is built. He was in a period of adjustment, of shaking things up, as it were, and he took as his mantra the phrase “Anything can happen”. I really liked that. It made perfect sense(and yet I still got it). Normally, out here in the sometimes foggy, sometimes windblown poo-storm reality of the Hinter Lands of perception, I would be hard pressed to believe that anything could really happen. For instance, I’m now fifty three years old, vaguely self employed, but stifled work–wise by chronic Irritable Bowel Syndrome. I find it unbelievable that I could yet wind up a yuppie, being neither young nor a “professional”. Similarly I find it hard to believe that I could actually become an Olympic power lifter, brain surgeon, professional skate boarder, or a successful financial investments broker. But on this episode of Vegas, I could believe it.

“Everyone bring one suitcase to the lobby for a raffle. Someone is getting on a plane for a mystery two day trip to somewhere waaaay more exotic than Vegas”. “Here, passers-by, have some truck keys. Instead of giving away one Maserati, I’m giving away one hundred new pickup trucks”. Very believable because it is Las Vegas, he owns a Casino, he can do that. And more than that, it’s believable because we know we’re dealing with make believe. It’s a Story. Someone wrote a Story. Wait a minute; I think that was important, well, at least to me, currently in the persona of Writer Man, able to write about leaping tall buildings in a single bound! It was a story made up by a writer, and the audience all, hopefully, understood that.

We all as writers get one freebie suspension of disbelief, however that one freebie might – might just be capable of containing myriad smaller suspensions of disbelief because we’re making up stories, written down by we, the writers.

My wish for my eternal freebie – I’m a writer. This is a story. Anything can happen, if I say it can. Okay, here’s where I make what I think is an important modification to that. In order to make that work, I may occasionally have to step back and give the readers a little background, a little “this world” history or theory about how and why this thing that would totally tweek the reader’s melon in “real” life is totally doable. Ya gotta have a little mercy, or a little sense of authorial self-preservation. Let’s face it if one story is just too chock full of “unbelievable weirdness”, unsupported by any internal logic or plausible back story, the reading public is not likely to want to partake of, or worse pay for, any more. Then we might have to go get yet another real job to support our caffeine and chocolate habits and we certainly do not want that.

Reminder to self: You may have to explain, like Piers Anthony, how it comes to be that there are two parallel worlds, one of technology, the other of magic(See the Blue Adept Series, I really loved that). Besides, it’s just fun to say or to think “Blue Adept”. That could mean all kinds of erotically charged things. Or not. Anything CAN happen.

That’s where my head is at, this mid NaNoWriMo morning. How many of us #amwriting folks are doing NaNo, and how is that going? What kinds of things are we making happen?

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