Thursday, December 11, 2008

Blog Chain - Wish Fulfillment in Fiction

Time again for the Blog Chain. This topic was chosen by Sandra. Head to her blog, Dual Citizenship in SpecFic and Mundania to catch the beginning of the chain. Carolyn at Archetype Writing came before me, and I am the end of this chain, so Sandra will be wrapping us up!

On to the topic….

What is the role of wish fulfillment in fiction? What personal wishes do you want your stories to fulfill? Are they the same ones you want to read about? How do our fictitious wishes affect our everyday dreams?

This one is a doozy :) Well, first of all, what personal wishes do I want my stories to fulfill? My characters tend to have a lot of me in them. Certain quirks and personality traits are translated into my characters make-ups. But, they also tend to be what I am not…sometimes, what I wished I could be. My characters are funnier, smarter, more outgoing, bolder, braver, and just plain spunkier than I ever will be. Sometimes I’ll create a situation and have my character act just as I would. But just as often, I’ll have the character act in a way that I always wished I could, but never would. If that makes any sense. :)

I also choose my settings and storylines sometimes based on my own personal wishes. I write historical fiction. Why? Because I love history. Would I ever want to really live in 17th century England. Probably not. But I’d love to visit for a few days and scamper about in those gorgeous poofy dresses :D Writing historicals allows me to indulge in my own little fantasy world.

Now, the situations my characters get into are not anything I would ever want to be involved in. I don’t want loved ones dying, I don’t want guns waved in my face, I’d hate to be kidnapped and beaten or threatened in any way. But…I think a part of me wishes for that kind of excitement. For the earth-shattering, all consuming passion that drives one character to risk everything for the one they love. I love my life, but let’s face it. Being a stay-at-home mom to two young children isn’t the most thrilling job in the world. Not that I would change places with anyone else for a second. But writing my stories allows me that small escape into a world vastly different from my own. And that is what I hope my stories do for my readers. I want my stories to suck them in and take them on a trip with characters they fall in love with. I want them to grab one of my books when they’ve had a hard day because they know they’ll get lost in a storyworld that will make all their cares and worries go away for a bit. So, that is my personal wish for what I want my stories to do.

Are my stories the same ones I want to read? Sometimes. I love historical romances. But I don’t read them when I am writing them. I get a little sick of the genre if I am immersed in it too much. So, if I am writing a historical romance, I’ll read something like Harry Potter. If I’m working on my Middle Grade/YA book, I’ll read Jane Austen or something. However, I do read for the same reason I write. I want to get lost in a world vastly different from my own. I don’t read “realistic” fiction very often. Stories set in the present time (unless they have paranormal or fantasy elements), non fiction dealing with the present or present issues. I read historicals, fantasies, science fiction, romance (as long as they aren’t contemporary – I very rarely read contemporary romance). I read biographies, but they are bios of ancient kings and queens and civilizations.

You know, before I decided to get my Masters degree in English and start writing, I wanted to be an archaeologist. I got my Bachelors degree in History. I subscribed to Archeaology magazine. I wanted nothing more than to go dig around in the sand and find old stuff :) I deal with the real world on a daily basis. When I am looking for entertainment (in the form of reading or writing) I go for something that is different than my every day life. I want to get lost in another time or place, not deal with the same type of stuff I have to deal with in my real life. Even when watching movies, my top choices are always the romantic comedies or fantasies and science fiction. Hardly ever dramas. I have enough drama in my life, I don’t want to watch someone else’s :)

What is the roll of wish fulfillment in fiction? Well, I’d probably say fiction is all about wish fulfillment of some kind. Fiction, by definition, is something imaginary…not real. In a fictitious world, anything can happen. Men are gallant and chivalrous, they can be dangerous, even criminal, and still be “the kind of guy you bring home to mom” all at the same time. You can get kidnapped before breakfast and be home safe and sound by dinner, and be none the worse for the experience. You can get the perfect job and meet the perfect mate, and despite several dumb mistakes, you’ll end up right where you want to be. You can be the most messed up person in the world, with the worst life imaginable, but by the end of the story, you are, at the very least, somewhat wiser and better off than you started out. You can ride dragons, fly with fairies, and shoot lightening from your fingertips, all while wearing some killer outfit, of course. You can solve all your problems and live happily ever after in 300 pages or less. No matter what your secret dreams or wishes are, in fiction, they can be fulfilled, with the simple turn of a page or the flick of a pen.

If you missed any entries in the chain, be sure to start from the beginning at Sandra’s blog.


Kate Karyus Quinn said...

Great post! That is really cool that you wanted to be an archeologist - following the whole wish fulfillment theme, maybe you should create a character who is one.

Archetype said...

Wow, what a great post. Mine is uber-lame, so I'm bowing in adulation!

bloggingexperiments said...

Love your post Michelle! An I'm with you when it comes to reading things that take me away to a different place and time, or offers me something magical.

H. L. Dyer said...

You should totally hang with Mr. Kiddoc, who spent a great deal of his childhood excavating in his backyard, looking for fossils and artifacts. :)

And I don't think your characters could possible be funnier or smarter than you. ;)

TerriRainer said...

I love that first picture!

I think humor is something that is inside you or not...I find it hard to believe that someone who is not funny, could write a character who truly is funny. I think you're selling yourself short in the humor department!

:) Terri

ElanaJ said...

Archeology appeals to me too, because you really can get lost in another time, dream up what the land was like, the animals, everything. Just think, your job could be your escape. How cool would that be? :)

Mary Fagan said...

What an enchanting blog! Love the look of your page. I agree absolutely in fiction's role to transport and fulfill wishes. And I love your comments on how characters can be you as well as everything you want to be!

Marcia said...

I write for middle grade readers, too. Story telling is a way for a person to put himself into another's shoes. So for me, writing stories is less about fulfilling my wishes, secret or otherwise, and more about trying on another time or place or persona and seeing what I can learn from it.

Marcia Calhoun Forecki
Better Than Magic

celticqueen said...

Thanks for the compliments and comment, Mary! I love seeing new faces here :)

And Marcia, I love the way you word that! Trying on another place, time or persona - what a wonderful way to think of it :) Thanks so much for stopping by! :)

Mary Lindsey said...

It's interesting that you read different genres when you write. I can't read at all during the rough draft phase. I stop all outside input to increase my output. If I read, I find myself adopting the style of the book I am reading. Messy for me. Great post. Thanks for sharing it with us.

celticqueen said...

I think when my kids get older and are in school longer, I will probably do what you do. For now though, I have hours in the day where everything is taken care of, but the kids are running around so I just can't sit and I read :) When I am writing, and especially when I am editing, if I read the same genre that I am writing in, I get overly critical of the book I'm reading...I'm still in writing/editing mode, and all I see is the format, sentence structure, all the little technical things, instead of the story. It's not as big of a problem if I read a genre different than what my creative side is concentrating on.

I tell you though, I can't wait for the days when I can spend most of the day writing! :D Of course, that means my kids growing up, which, despite what I say, I am not in a rush for :) But, at least then, I might actually get something accomplished instead of eeking out a few piddly words a day :)