Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Keep Things Simple

Every good story has an element of escapism in it. No matter how gritty a story may be, readers don’t sit down to read a story about their current situation. Readers are looking for looking for something to free them from the boredom of their current situation. I was looking at an Amish romance the other day and I began to wonder why the fans of these novels enjoy them. The only think I could think of was that people dream of a simpler life. It is the same reason that people enjoy Historicals. While sitting in a nice air conditioned house reading these book, it is easy to imagine that life must be simple for the Amish or for the people who lived in past centuries. It is easy to forget that washing clothes was a backbreaking task and to wash the dishes after the meal required someone to carry water and heat it. The world people imagine as they read these books is far from the world as it really was or in the case of the Amish life, as it really is.

Modern day novels should be much simpler than real life. For example, if there is a boss character in the book, instead of having him refuse to give a character a raise because his boss own boss won’t allocate the money, who won’t allocate it because her budget has been slashed, which was a result of the increase in fuel prices, just have the boss refuse to give a raise because he is playing favorites. (I just had a thought as I wrote that. I wonder if the reason so many actors are liberals is because screen plays simplify everything to the point that you can no longer see that for the little guy to make money the big companies have to make and spend money.) People in the working world often have problems, such as low pay or job cuts and they feel like someone is out to get them, but they don’t know who to blame. They can pick up a book and escape to a world where the problem doesn’t exist or it is very clearly defined who has caused the problem.

Even though real life is much more complicated, keeping things simple in a story make it easier for the reader to understand. When given a choice between making things more like the world or making things simple, the writer should choose the simple path because that is the path that give the reader the escape he or she desires.