Do you want to escape?

Get out of your head

As a reader, I want to escape into a story and don’t want to return until I absolutely must. This kind of escapism is not unusual. Life is not ideal. We can’t always afford to take ourselves away from the life we have. Books and movies give us a more affordable way to live a different life, if only for a few hours. When we escape like this, the last thing we want is to be dropped out of our fantasy world and brought back to reality with a thump.

When editing, my job is to look for things which will drop a reader out of the story. Some of these can be:

  • spelling, grammar and punctuation errors;
  • characters acting ‘out of character’ or stupidly;
  • inconsistencies;
  • awkward phrasing, lack of clarity;
  • breaking the rules of the story world;
  • breaking the rules of the genre (killing the hero in a romance story).

These and others are dangerous to the career of the writer because once a reader is ‘dumped’ out of the story, they might:

  • remember all the things they should be doing instead of reading;
  • get so frustrated they throw the book at the wall; and/or
  • never forgive the writer and write them on their blacklist.

Telling lies for a living

Why we write

There is nothing wrong with telling lies for a living. Writers of fiction are not the only ones who do it. So long as there is no intent to commit fraud or harm, why should we not? After all, it is not only writers who tell lies for a living. Poets, artists, singers and songwriters, actors, commedians…

Why do we love these liars, buy their books, music, art and movies? Because we find value in suspending our disbelief, opening our hearts and minds to their lies and finding that most valuable kernel of truth.

We need stories

Need Stories

Why? Because sometimes we want to be swept away from reality and entertained, amused, or reassured that good can win over evil, love makes the world go around and we can get what we think we deserve. We may be looking for a way to deal with a situation, seeking a model to emulate, an example to follow, inspiration to greatness, or courage to continue toward our goals.

We learn much from being entertained in this way, about how people think and feel, how they reason and why they do what they do. Both as an example to follow and to avoid.

Sometimes we need to learn the lessons we don’t learn from reality. We need the objectivity of not being so personally involved.

There are hundreds more reasons why we need stories. What are your favourites?