Perspective & Conflict: Life vs. Fiction (Wait! I want a do-over!)
When was the last time you did or said something you wished you could take back? Have you ever had a circumstance where the thing you said or did created irreconcilable problems?
In my novels there is always at least one major instance, and other smaller ones, where a character says or does something he or she wishes could be undone/unsaid. This creates conflict which is, of course, the lifeblood of a good book but not desired in real life. In fiction, no matter what hell an author puts her characters through, resolution is guaranteed if that’s how the author chooses to write it. Unfortunately, in real life, things don’t always work out that way.
In my novel Love Built to Last there is a scene where Maddie, the heroine, experiences extreme emotional trauma and reacts with words that drive a wedge between her and the hero. Most readers sympathize with Maddie’s circumstances and plight, understand how and why she reacts as she does. The same is true for Love to Believe when readers come to understand why the hero breaks off his relationship with the heroine at the most unlikely of moments. In both of these instances, words cause the heartbreak and division. Emotional upheaval ensues. Ahh…romance!
Love to Win is different. In Love to Win the heroine does something she knows she shouldn’t. Actions, now, are much more difficult to explain away or overcome. The interesting thing is that what the heroine does in Love to Win has received mixed responses from readers. One reviewer thought the hero’s reaction to what Brenna (the heroine) did was extreme. “He overreacted,” the reader said. Polar opposite of this was another reader who was so upset she e-mailed me privately, saying, “I can’t believe you made her do something so unforgivable! How could you do that?” After my giddy celebratory dancing—when a reader gets that emotional, it means I’ve done my job—I considered the two different responses: one reader who shrugged and couldn’t see the big deal and another who came unglued.
Which brings me to the Big Thing I’ve talked about before in many blog posts (like this one, for instance http://www.lisaricardclaro.com/why-pov-matters-power-over-perspective/ and this one http://www.lisaricardclaro.com/pawsitive-pondering-p-is-for-perspective/:
PERSPECTIVE IS EVERYTHING
Those two readers carried a vastly different view of the heroine’s choices and the subsequent fallout. As long as I’ve been writing, it never occurred to me that readers would carry such opposing views of the same event. After all, the scene is written in black and white, right? It isn’t like real life where witnesses to events are famous for getting details wrong. No, this was in writing, with both women reading exactly the same scene, word for word. One shrugged. The other suffered an emotional bloodletting. I can only account for the disparate views by assuming their life experiences led them to their differing perspectives of the same event.
In life, as in fiction, perspective varies depending on the filters through which a person views an event or processes words. Our life experiences, from childhood on, mold the lenses of our perception. I’ve known people who became offended by everything, no matter how benign, and others who were offended by nothing, no matter how egregious. Do you know people who fall to these extremes? You know what I mean—the friend we all tip-toe around, afraid to say the wrong thing for fear of initiating some kind of drama, and the other friend, the one who, after discovering someone deposited a smelly pile of fly-infested horse manure on his front stoop, will take it as a positive sign that the delivery of a horse can’t be far behind.
Most of us fall somewhere in the middle, and that means that no matter our personal perspectives, it is likely we have, at some point, said or done something we later regret. Sometimes we get a pass, and at other times we don’t. Often we chastise ourselves when no one else does. But we deal with the fallout in one form or another. And so do the characters in our novels. The difference for those fictional beings is that a happy ending may be just over the horizon, author willing. For those of us breathing real air, well . . . it’s complicated. We never know how things will turn out. There is no flipping to the back of the book for reassurance that our regretted words/actions will clean up in the wash. All we can do is live, learn, and love deeply. And I guess maybe that’s all that’s required of us in the end.
If you read my novel Love to Win were you shocked by Brenna’s action, what she did to win the contest? Or did you think Dante (the hero) overreacted? And when was the last time you said or did something you regretted later? How did it turn out for you?
Thanks for hanging with me. See you next week for more of the Naked Truth.
Romance is good for your heart! To purchase your copy of Love Built to Last, Love to Believe, or Love to Win in eBook or print, go to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Black Opal Books, or Kobo. Or just click the book cover on the sidebar. That works too. And autographed copies are available for purchase on my home page. 🙂
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