November 26, 2011
Courting Temptation in the Realm of the Probable
Things happen that are outside the realm of probability (although not to me). Real people win the lottery, survive lightening strikes, write bestsellers and marry princes. Truth can be stranger than fiction, but fiction can’t be stranger than truth. There are few things more annoying than a movie with plot holes large enough to drive a garbage truck through or a book that’s so contrived and the ending so implausible you want to sue the author for wasting your time.
Capturing the essence and nuance of human nature without manipulating it is the foundation of a good story. All things may be possible but not all things are probable. I’ve been pondering this quite a bit, because I happened upon another short story contest (OK, I didn’t “happen upon it”. I looked for one). The idea my muse threw me has me pondering more than writing (at this rate I’ll miss the deadline). And the pondering has me wondering. I know it’s possible for a person to turn their life around. I’ve done it myself, and I’ve seen others do it; people overcoming addictions, inclinations and tendencies that had them by the throat and threatened to destroy them.
I know it’s always possible, but is it probable, particularly in the confines of fiction?
There was a man who loved the challenge of women. It was a heady game for him. His goal was the hook-up; her’s was a relationship. He always won and was always eager to find a new conquest. He didn’t realize the game had become dull and stale until he met someone who wouldn’t play it with him. To make a short story shorter, he fell in love with a young woman. And he could see with great clarity the peace and happiness a life and family with that woman would bring him. And he desired that more than he had ever desired anything before, even winning the game.
But the challenge and allure of women didn’t melt away just because he decided he didn’t want it anymore. It was part of him and the danger of temptation was always lurking in another woman’s eyes. There were occasions when he could overcome the temptation. But life is never that simple and the man found himself in a situation that overwhelmed him with desire to win another conquest. It’s possible that he resisted, but I can’t help wonder how probable it is.
What do you think? Because the real ending to the story hinges on the answer to that question.