I am so tired of people saying truth is stranger than fiction. First of all I’ve read some pretty strange fiction. Try reading a little Terry Prachett or Kurt Vonnegut or Neil Gaiman etc… and then tell me truth is stranger than fiction.
But, hey, I’m a reasonable man. Let’s say that it is sometimes true that truth is stranger than fiction. I will be the first to admit and even celebrate the capacity of humans to do absurdly foolish things. Absurdly brave sometimes, absurdly everything really. I will say this: fiction is restrained by the need for believability; reality has no such constraints.
My world, the one I’m creating, has to have certain rules. If you’re writing realistic fiction those rules will generally be resistant to absurd coincidences. Naturally, absurd coincidences happen all the time in the real world, but we accept these after a bit of head shaking. If they happen in fiction we cry, “foul” and slam the book shut. Is this fair? No, I say. A thousand times no. But it’s true that we will not tolerate in our fiction what we will tolerate in our real lives or in our non-fiction. So, it seems, we hold our fiction to a higher standard of believability than our non-fiction. Go figure.
I get around this “fiction cannot be as strange as truth” problem by writing absurd fiction. I have little green men who actually do invade Earth. What are you going to do with that? If your world, the one you create, is fantastical you can of course be as strange as you want. In other words, the truth has nothing on me. In my world FICTION IS STRANGER THAN TRUTH.