Writing fiction allows me to live in a world of fantasy and make belief. There, I direct whether characters turn left or right. I can supply them with any emotion I want - fear, happiness, sadness - and ultimately, the consequences of the decisions they make throughout the novel are (typically) forgotten once the reader shuts the book.
Oh sure, there's that niggle of hope you've written something poignant enough to leave a lasting impression, like the brilliant creep factor of Hannibal Lecter, or the spectacular emotion evoked in The Lovely Bones. But in the end, it's just fiction.
My job as a writer is to compel the reader to turn the page. They expect that I will tie up any loose ends before "the end" so that they can close the book in satisfaction.
True life is a different story - and often, one more difficult to write.
I can spend months agonizing over a plot, shaping character decisions to create conflict (says the thriller writer in me), passion (says the romance writer in me) or pain (says the horror writer in me) - yet, I can make life-altering decisions in the blink of an eye.
And I can't write away the consequences.
In fiction, I can manipulate a fantasy world to facilitate whether my characters find true love, are killed in an avalanche, or uncover a lost treasure. At the beginning of each project, my protagonist and antagonist whisper their dreams in my ear - and I get to decide which character will reach their goal - and what dream I can crush. Of course, the "good guy" will almost always have a happy ending.
In general, readers like that. It's what I look for in a book - an example of someone chasing a dream and seeing it come true. Or finding forgiveness from the best friend they've let down. Rekindling a love in danger of being lost. The triumphant victory of good over bad. By the time I hit the end, I'm eager for satisfaction, the ultimate escape from reality.
Sadly, the real world is not so easily manipulated and you can't "fake it" to "make it." Real life obstacles can prevent the "good guy" from winning. Not all kisses are magic. Decisions can have long term consequences. And unfortunately, there isn't always a "happily ever after."
Is it any wonder I consider a good book virtually priceless? I'm grateful to be surrounded by a complement of talented writers and authors who provide me with an opportunity to follow my dreams within the pages of theirs.
The Book In My Bag Today: The Paris Vendetta, Steve Berry