Greetings, SE’ers! Beem Weeks here with you again. Today, I am going to share some brief thoughts on writing those things in which the author may not believe—or even agree with.
Can we, as authors, write about those things in which we don’t believe? I honestly never gave much thought to such a notion—until a young woman questioned me about the subject of reincarnation. For the record, I do not believe we will come back into this world as another person or animal or insect or tree after we die.
So, what exactly prompted such a line of questioning? The woman asking had recently read a story I wrote entitled The Distance. It’s a short piece of fiction about a middle-aged man named Richard Metzger coming face to face with a blond-headed five-year-old boy who may or may not be the reincarnation of his younger brother. I left the story open-ended, allowing the readers to form their own opinions as to whether the boy is indeed Richard’s late brother or not.
As writers, we’re all familiar with Mark Twain’s call to Write what you know. I’ve written many stories over the years—some going back decades. I can recall the origins of most of my creations. I remember the germination of The Distance as if I wrote it yesterday. But to claim I’ve only written what I know, well, that would be a lie. I know next to nothing about most of the subjects on which I’ve written. This is where research becomes vital to us writers.
Back to my original question. Can we, as authors, write about those things in which we don’t believe? The answer is a resounding yes! An atheist can write an intelligent and thought-provoking story of a character with great faith in a Higher Power. A warm and sensitive soul can create dark and sinister characters and stories that might curl the toes of his or her readers.
I have my own set of beliefs. These have evolved over the course of my life—I owe that to spiritual growth and hard-learned lessons. However, my stories are not bound by these beliefs. I can—and do—write stories and create characters that do not fit into my own system of beliefs.
Murder mysteries aren’t created by psychopaths who secretly yearn to kill—at least I hope not. I’ve yet to meet a genuine time traveler—as far as I know—but I’ve enjoyed many stories crafted around that very subject. Do those authors really believe time travel is possible? Can they see beyond the myriad obstacles involved such an undertaking? Some do, others don’t. It doesn’t really matter when creating a tale of fiction.
Writers must rely on more than simple research of a subject. Writers must possess a fluid imagination capable of considering even the darkest of characters or the wildest stretching of reality. When we breach our comfort zone, we often find our best work. So, unshackle your imagination and consider new ideas.