April 15, 2021 in Dag

Keeping it real – even if it’s make believe

Well, we’re just over the one quarter mark for the year. There’s a feeling that 2021 still hasn’t quite shown its true colours. Vaccines are out and seem to be making a big difference – at least to those folks who are able to receive them. There’s a sense that a return to normality is imminent, but still not quite there yet. And anyway, is normality really what we want to get back to, or can we aim a little higher than that.

But I digress. Those greater matters are probably the subject of another post, or perhaps a series of posts, or maybe a complete novel or a PhD. I’m not sure I have the knowledge or even the brain space to try to go there. So I’m going to keep things a bit more personal, and look at my first significant achievement for the year.

The good news is, I’ve just about finished my third rewrite for the massive work that has been in progress now for over 4 years – that’s right, the fantasy/comedy/romance/adventure/satire epic (though I’m not sure which is more epic, the story itself or the four years I’ve spent writing it). Whichever way I look at it, it’s a pretty solid achievement. It’s a story that I’ve put a lot of thought and a lot of heart into, and there have been times I wasn’t sure I could pull it off – even now I’m not convinced I’ve done it, but I’m pretty pleased with what I’ve got.

At the moment, I’m really just doing a bit of spot fixing here and there. And the main goal of this spot fixing is to try to make some of the key moments that little bit more real.

Which is kind of funny when I think about it, because it’s a story with an extremely high fantasy quotient. It’s split between an imaginary world and the real world, but to be honest I sometimes feel that the real world is the more fantastical of the two. Though there are a number of solid reference points, based on the city I live in, it mostly plays out in a kind of heightened version of reality – real but not quite real. Then again, given the main focus of those sections is the romance sub-plot of the story, it’s no wonder it’s all a bit fantastical – after all, isn’t romance the biggest fantasy of them all?

So what am I talking about, trying to make a fantasy story more real? I guess it’s about the human drama that underpins it all. It’s all a bit unreal and imaginary, but in order for it to work, there still has to be something real about it. There has to be some truth underpinning the work. Otherwise, why would anybody care about these characters. And while fantastical I can do in my sleep, real drama takes a little more work.

I’m not sure I’ll ever know if I hit the right note with that drama. I suppose it will be up to readers to decide, assuming they ever get to see it. Because once I have that third draft complete, I have more decisions to make about what will become the ultimate fate of this story.

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