Sunday, September 6, 2009

Invented or True? When Imagination Hits on Something Real

As I work on my next novel something really strange keeps happening. I'll invent something, start researching, and discover that the thing I invented, even if it sounds far-fetched, is grounded in reality.

I made up one character and gave him a job title, only to read in an obscure history book about someone just like him--with a very similar job title. This occurred in a context I had never researched before, so it wasn't that I'd learned about him in the past and forgot it.

Then I came up with an idea that could provide a nice way of resolving an important exterior plot point. The only problem was that for it to work the astrological charts of two historical personages would have to fit some very narrow parameters--down to the times of day they were born. I figured if they didn't, since I was writing a novel, I'd just glide over the astrology part and tell the story.

Except that when I found the personages' birth data it turned out both of them were born exactly at the time of day when they'd have to be born for my plot device to be true.

It's all very strange. Almost as strange as the feeling many writers report that their characters are real and that they tell us their stories rather than being artificial constructs we invent to tell stories we want to tell.

Have you had the experience of making up something out of thin air that turns out to be something that really happened to a real person you knew nothing about?

1 comment:

Other Lisa said...

Definitely. Or things that you think are way too coincidental and arbitrary but guess what? True!