|Feed Your Fiction Addiction and It Starts At Midnight host the 2017 Discussion Challenge.|
What’s the difference between fiction and real life? Fiction has to make sense
If you’ve taken writing or literature classes, you’ve probably seen some version of the statement above. Readers don’t like messy fiction. They expect plots to progress in logical ways and characters to have clear motivations. They have no patience for pointless characters, random plot tangents, coincidence, luck, chance, or deus ex machina. Some readers insist on happily ever afters or neat endings. Readers don’t even like “real” dialogue. Have you ever read an unedited transcript of a real-life conversation? It’s annoying. People say “Um” a lot. They pause awkwardly while they’re thinking. They repeat themselves, constantly interrupt each other, and change subjects without warning. Readers don’t like that stuff in their fiction. Most readers want fictional stories to be easy to follow. They want minimal mess.
I guess that’s where the saying “Stranger than fiction” comes from. Real life is messy. Sometimes, stupid stuff happens for no reason. This has led me to wonder if you guys have had any “Stranger than fiction” moments in your life.
Nothing too bizarre has happened to me, but I have had two brushes with the Grim Reaper. (Or, more accurately, brushes with serious injury.) So, it’s story time:
Once Upon A Time, My Dog Took A Leak
About 10 years ago, I was walking my dog in the middle of the day. It was a weekday, so the neighborhood was pretty much empty. The dog and I were about to cross a street when he stopped to sniff a garbage can. The street we were on was twisty and lined with big trees, so it was hard to see if cars were coming, and it was hard for drivers to see us. While my dog was peeing on the garbage, a big SUV came flying down the road and bounced up onto the sidewalk directly across the street from us. The driver was texting. Driver dude was so wrapped up in his phone that he drove right off the road. If my dog hadn’t stopped to take a leak, we would’ve crossed the street and been walking on that sidewalk when the car came onto it. Basically, my dog’s desire to piss on everything saved us from being pancaked by a texting driver.
|Dakota. A very good boy and a very thorough pisser.|
Once Upon A Time, I Cleaned A Fish Tank
This story is embarrassing, but that just makes it better, right?
I’ve owned aquariums for most of my life. One day, I was cleaning a tank. This particular aquarium had an ancient filter on it. I have no idea how old this filter was because it wasn’t new when I got it. It wasn’t the safest thing to be using, but I was too cheap to replace it. After I finished cleaning the tank, I plugged in the filter and . . . promptly got electrocuted. If you’ve never had the pleasure of being electrocuted, I can assure you that it hurts like hell. It’s like a billion hot needles shooting through your body. The electricity went into my hand, up my arm, through my chest, up my neck, and into the right side of my face. It made my heart feel stuttery, and it took a few minutes to catch my breath after it was all over.*
It turns out that when you get electrocuted, the muscles in the shocked body parts spasm without warning. When the electricity hit my arm, the muscles contracted. My fist flew into my chest, and . . . I accidentally punched myself in the boob. Really, really hard. I used to kickbox, and I don’t think I’ve ever punched anything as hard as I punched my own boob when I got electrocuted. I actually hit myself hard enough that I fell over backwards and smacked my head on the floor. For several days after my electrocution, I had a big lump on my head, a badly bruised tit, achy muscles on the right side of my body, and a deep fear of my house’s electrical sockets. Be careful with electricity, kids. It hates you.
*The fish in the tank were fine. I somehow managed to keep all the electricity to myself. I’ve never been very good at sharing.
Let’s discuss: Have you had any “Stranger than fiction” moments? Crazy coincidences? Near misses? Good or bad luck? Random stupid events?