Imagination = Worst Case Scenario Expert

 

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Imagination is a wonderful thing. It’s what allows us to create stories, characters, even whole new worlds in our heads. But, as in the case of Anne Shirley and the haunted wood, it can sometimes get the better of us.

Today I was opening a pack of bananas and felt a slight pain in my finger. Did I conclude, as turned out to be the case, that the packaging had given me a slight cut? No. I immediately assumed I’d been bitten by some kind of tropical spider and would die a horrifying death within minutes. I quite often imagine dying. And I’m not bothered about the death itself, but about the reaction of my family, which also plays out in great detail in my head. If it wasn’t an overdone subject now, I could have so many stories about grief.

Perhaps this is why I don’t like to read sad stories. There’s so much sadness in the world already and I’m perfectly capable of imagining my own, thank you very much. I’m already an expert on worst case scenarios. For me, reading is an escape. I don’t want to be made to dwell on the morbid. I’m not into ‘the feels’ that so many fandoms go for. I want stories where only a reasonable number of people die. Stories about hope, joy and faith. And that’s what I want to write too. I’m sorry if that makes me a wuss. But I’ll deal with the harsh realities in life, not fiction please. Fiction can be about anything you want. You can end it any way you choose. And I choose not to be made miserable. A compelling story doesn’t have to be sad. Pride and Prejudice ends well for everyone. So does Jane Eyre.  P G Wodehouse created a world in which nothing bad ever happens, and we go back to it again and again.

I’m not saying no one should ever die in books. My favourite author, Louisa May Alcott, includes just enough sadness to be realistic, but punctuates it with more cheerful stuff. Dickens generally kills one or two characters, then lets everyone else live happily ever after. Even Wuthering Heights treats death in a fairly matter of fact way without unnecessary lingering. And everyone who dies in that is odious anyway, in my opinion.

It’s all about balance, I suppose. What’s your preference?

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6 thoughts on “Imagination = Worst Case Scenario Expert

  1. Ratika Deshpande says:

    I like sweet, happy stories, but i find myself enjoying the sad stories. The bittersweet ones, to be precise. But recently I realized why I always tend to write sad stories. I thought these stories sell more, but I discovered that writing about sadness will make me accept that it exists and that every single one of us deals with it. I’m a very happy and positive person, so when I come across something very sad or disturbing, I struggle to accept its existence. I’m going to write about this on my blog; I need to write about why I want to write sad stories

    .And don’t apologize for wanting to write happy stories – we need those too. 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. tibetanlemonade says:

    Thought provoking! You line about a reasonable number of deaths made my mind flash to Macbeth. I totally agree with you when I am reading for entertainment. There are authors I will not read because of that. I also can’t do cop dramas. Maybe because I got plenty of that in real life? There are times, however, when I read to better understand humanity, or because of the craft in a novel. In those instances, the “feels” don’t matter as much. I’m thinking of novels like Madame Bovary, The Awakening, and As I Lay Dying as examples.

    Like

    • bewritingblog says:

      I agree, there are definitely novels that have to be read despite the number of deaths! I think in general these ones, such as those you listed, tend to have a more sweeping vision, they aren’t just there to get tears out of you. I can’t help feeling that some novels are sad just because it’s ‘in fashion.’ I totally understand why you can’t watch cop shows, though I like some of them. But then I was never a cop!

      Liked by 1 person

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