13 September 2011

Digging a Hole to China

Remember being told that as a kid? I certainly do. Do you ever remember why you were told that? No, me either. But, I remember believing every word of it.  And giving it a try.  On entirely different note, what are kids in China told? Are they told to go outside and dig a hole to America? And do they believe it too?

Well, this thought came to me one day when I was thinking about the writing process. Isn’t that what this writing stuff is all about? Aren’t we just trying to get our readers convinced that they can dig a hole to China (metaphorically, of course)? What we are trying to do is get them so involved and so connected to our book and our characters that they don’t realize that it isn’t real.

Am I the only one that googled to be sure that the book Amityville Horror was based on a true story? While there has been extensive controversy about the book on whether or not it’s claim is based on a true story, the book (not the movie) gives you an intense ride through the life of the family living inside of this house. It’s one of the few horror stories that gives you a better experience in the book, than the movie.

And how about the writer that’s telling this story? When reading these writing interviews, how often do writers get asked whether these events in their book were inspired by real experiences? (Remember the movie The Blair Witch Project…didn’t you just want that to be real?) Or how about writers who get asked whether their character’s were inspired by real people in their life? (I’m certain we’ve all gotten that question.)

Readers want to be convinced so much that what they are reading is real. It may have been found in the fiction section, but when a writer weaves a tail so cleverly that it leaves the reader wanting to meet this character, take them out for lunch, and gab about the experiences they just lived through, it seems as if that’s when the writer has truly achieved success.

Today I’m writing with the knowledge that my reader wants me to take their hand, and take them on a journey where they can believe in the story.  I may be telling them about something that hasn’t really happened…about a place that doesn’t really exist…about a character they can’t meet…but that doesn’t really matter.

You know why?

Because at heart, we are still little kids, with a shovel in our hand, digging that hole to China.

Still wanting to believe that Santa is real.

That toys come to life when you’re not looking (or when you push them too far)…

And that the Great Pumpkin will rise again.

*grabs shovel* So, if any of you need me. I’ll be outside.


  1. I used to believe in Santa for a long time, but as life has gotten more stressful and only bad things happened at the Holidays, I stopped. Now dolls are another story. I will not have dolls in my house because of Puppet Master and Dead Silence. I watched them as kids and they were so ingrained that its still with my in adult years.

    But when I read fiction, I want to believe that its actually happening. I want to be in the story and my heart racing with each turn of the page or scroll of the mouse. So I think thats a great way.

    Have a spoon? Let's dig to China then!

    Thanks for stopping by and following Edge of Insanity.


  2. I'm digging that hole still! :)

    The story can be a complete lie and if the writer can convey the smells, sounds and textures as well as describe responses that I would have were I there, then that is truly good fiction to me.

    I wasn't mad that Santa Clause wasn't real. I was happy that I had the opportunity to believe.

    Thanks for the post, Nicole!

  3. I was never taught to believe in Santa.
    Didn't Bugs Bunny dig his way to China?

  4. Hi Nicole! Sorry I've never made it over here. Excellent post. I know I read to escape my reality for someone else's. I love feeling like I'm making new friends, and I love it when I wonder what they are doing after the story ends.

  5. Excellent point. Nothing turns me off of a book or a movie faster than losing that "suspension of disbelief". The minute I hit something that I can't believe I'm outta there. So why do I love SciFi and Fantasy? Well - obviously some writers can make you believe anything...

  6. This is an excellent post!! I am with you. In a very good book, I want the story to go on. I personally want to know what happens to the characters next. They have become like friends, they are that believable. Surely all writers strive to evoke some kind of emotion, or involve the reader to the point where the world created is real. Brilliant blog.


  7. Nice post! We want to believe because many times we need to believe. Suspension of disbelief is, indeed, a gift.

    Btw - how can I follow you without Facebook? I don't have an account there.

  8. Suspension of disbelief is a necessary pre-requisite for reading fiction. Readers want a kind of escape from reality, but they want a world that *appears* to be real and with characters they can believe in.

  9. I enjoyed reading your post, Nicole =)Readers always like stories that they can relate to instantly. Even if your story did not happen in real life, if your readers believe and embrace your characters, then to them it's a real life story.

    As a child, I will never forget that Santa Claus movie starred by Tim Allen because of this thought:

    Sometimes you don't have to see to believe, but you only have to believe to see :)

  10. @AngelaK - I'm with you on the Holidays thing! Isn't it ironic though that the very thing that should be considered "happy" is always the most troubled? Now, I can't agree with the dolls thing, but puppets? Now there is NO WAY I would ever have one in my house!! YIKES! Scary!!

    Yes -- It's so important to be able to lose yourself in the book!! I love that feeling!!

    Thank you for reading!

    @Diane Carlisle - Me too!!! Yup, good fiction must be believable. If the reader thinks it's real, than your good! :)

    Good point!! Just to have that moment where you believed in something you couldn't see and didn't have to have proof of!! Good feeling!

    Thank you!!

    @Ruth - I think he did!! Either that or Alberquerque (sp?) :)

    @Charity Bradford - Yup, and I love that feeling of wanting to know what happened to the character's even after a book is over (I've even written the author asking what happened to the character! Isn't that silly???

    @Summer Fey Foovay - Oh me too. The second I realize that this is a BOOK not a real world I'm reading, you've completely lost me. I'm the same way!! That's why I love fantasy and all that -- the writer can just weave and spin the most magnificent tale and you're right there with them!!

    @Kathy - Thank you!! Yes, that's why I think so many series authors are successful! Because if they can convince that the character is real and the reader falls in love with them, then they are FOR SURE ready to go back for more!!

    @E.D. - It is! Its something I continue to work on! You can also follow me on Twitter (@BeingTheWriter), and I'm also on GooglePlus (I still need to get a button for that!) :)

    @Paula Martin - That's for sure!! The reality must be in place (but not too real, because how fun would that be?) :)

    @Shyxter - Thank you! Very true!! And character's they can like! I love that quote by the way!!


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