Fiction and Random Things

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March 6, 2018 by bradcharlesbeals

verisimilitude: n; the appearance or semblance of truth.  

From our puny perspectives, the world around us is everyday filled with the random and inexplicable. We don’t know why that thing is lying there on the side of the road or why that guy is laughing or what that noise is or why so and so does that thing with her hands.

We don’t know all of it because we can’t. We occupy too narrow a place in the drama. And this unknowing is one of the fundamentally true things about all of us.

So my fiction, as long as it’s not in some blurry-edged short form like fable, should include this ubiquitous aspect of human experience. It should be punctuated with the random and inexplicable.

And by that I do not mean random details that comprise a motif that supports a theme, and I do not mean inexplicable things that will come together in some climactic reveal in chapter fifty. I do not at all mean details wired into some other literary element. Yes, there is a place for symbol and motif, but it’s not in every place where a detail can be made to fit. What I do mean is that there should be – scattered throughout my narrative – truly random and inexplicable things that stay that way, that are simply left as they are in the reader’s unknowing.

People are strange, both to themselves and to each other, and the random and inexplicable debris that litters the landscape of the real world corroborates that fact. For the sake of verisimilitude, this debris should litter my fictional world too.

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