It's Friday night and I just wrapped up a difficult writing session on my newest work-in-progress called "Knowing Abbie."Before you ask, yes. This is the third major work-in-progress I have going just now, but that is not what added difficulty to the writing session.Fiction writing is about realism, even when we work in more fantastical genres. I would argue that realism is even more important in such writings: how can you take your readers to the rings of Saturn if you haven't done your research to know what it might be like for a person to go there? Of course, you could have a book full of native-born folks from Titan, but you better know about atmosphere and make them seem like creatures that could survive in hydrocarbon lakes and -179 degrees Celsius under methane cloud cover.When the topic is not so alien, we have to do our research just the same, even if the research involves searching our own minds.I was writing a flashback chapter for my character, Nancy Labaro. She was reflecting on her ex-husband and my first attempt started at the wedding. The second attempt started with a sentence: Nancy did not know who Brandon was until after the wedding. Ew. And then, there it was. Epiphany.Tell the story from the beginning.Offer a scene about their first time, you know ... and how bad it was for Nancy.Next, include a time when his temper flared (Brandon was abusive).Then go into the horror of the wedding.Last, give up how she got away from this shmo.Yeah!Mind you, "Knowing Abbie" is a story of redemption and renewal. However, Nancy went through some ugly stuff and her story needed to include it in a way that puts the reader in her shoes--even if only from a distance and in a way that is not as disturbing as real life. I could have gone there, but having studied at the School of Let the Reader's Imagination Scare Them, I needed to leave some mental white space.So I leave you this Friday night with a couple of questions:
Do you include rough subject matter in your stories? If so, how do you tackle it?How much do you orchestrate through your prose and how much do you leave to the readers' imaginations?