Several years ago I worked as a school secretary. Occasionally my tranquil day of answering the phone, printing handouts, filing records, sorting mail, taking temperatures, etc. would be enlivened with parents who would enter the office and say, “May I ask you a question?”
My canned response was “Go ahead. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll make up something.”
They were probably relieved when Hubby got a new job and we had to relocate.
Fiction writers are probably the biggest liars out there (my mistake … we’re right behind politicians). But readers are willing to suspend disbelief because they expect us to entertain or inspire or instruct them with a compelling story.
Any conman will tell you the most effective lies are seeded with truths (I feel like I’m contributing to the delinquency of readers here). It’s no surprise the best stories, no matter how fantastical they are, get embraced because they speak from a reality people can identify with.
Writing any genre of fiction will involve throwing in some facts, but part of the fun is twisting reality to fit your vision. Luckily for fiction authors, history is full of holes, contemporary time presents unknowns, science is still working out theories, and fantasy has been with us since the first caveman said “Hrmph!” (translation: What made that sound?)
It makes you wonder about the underlying psychology of writers. What twisted component in our brain makes us want to engage others in our flights of fancy? Are we really that needy for attention?
Yet ironically, many writers tend to be introverts. And since most of us are avid readers ourselves, can you really call it a symbiotic relationship between storyteller and audience?
I think it boils down to we just got to be crazy. See, when I don’t know the answer, I can make up something….