Tuesday, October 01, 2013

An overview… (or Germany isn't where you think it is)

Having finally finished Roses for a Diva (well, nearly, since I’m waiting for final word from my editing guru), I’m sort of at sixes and nines this week, as the saying goes.

I feel as if I’m resurfacing into the real world and there are so many things to catch up on that I’ve missed over the last month. Cruising the Internet is one thing I like to do. Being curious by nature is only part of it. I often find interesting things to write about for Type M. The subject for our all-time, most-read post (Picking over the bones of the dead) came about from me trolling the Internet and finding something interesting that I’d missed in one of our local Toronto papers.

Yesterday, I was spending a bit of face time on Facebook, and ran across this clip from The West Wing:

 Being curious as to whether what they’re saying in this clever bit of television was actually true, I dug a bit deeper (we-have-been-mislead-by-an-erroneous-map-of-the-world-for-500-years) Turns out this map-deception on the television show was absolutely true – and really quite damning when you think about it.

Which brings me to the point of my post for today: how much suspension of disbelieve will readers be willing to deal with as they turn the pages of any particular work of fiction? It’s something we novelists – no matter what kind of fiction we write – have to deal with every day. I’m sure there are writers who research every tiny detail used in their books, but I would suspect they have a lot of disposable income to devote to this endeavor (because their publishers sure won’t). In order to write Roses, my wife and I went to Italy. We visited the places about which I wrote, but because I’ve never had to walk out on the stage of the Teatro Dell’Opera in Rome to sing anything (let alone Tosca), I have to either rely on those who have (and I am fortunate enough to have those kinds of friends and acquaintances) or “wing it” to to greater or lesser extent, depending upon my need.

How well I do when I’m winging it really can have a huge bearing on my novel’s acceptance. My greatest fear is that a reviewer will come along who actually has sung in Tosca in Rome and will begin their review: “It really is too bad the lack of research by the author…”

So how does this tie into the clip from The West Wing? Obviously, very few of us have questioned the way a Mercator projection map of the Earth distorts our perception of where we live. The people who sold us this lie – because that’s what it is and it suited their needs to have us think that this map showed our planet as it really exists – obviously have done a very good selling job.

And isn’t that what any fiction writer aspires to whenever they sit down to work? A great selling job?

1 comment:

Charlotte Hinger said...

Alas, my novels are set in Western Kansas. A place I know very well. So my protagonist doesn't get a chance to travel anywhere very exotic.