One of my all-time favorite quotes about writing is Mark Twain’s famous statement about fiction versus truth— “Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.”
I’ve been rolling that quote around in my head because my current novel-in-progress pushes certain envelopes. No, there are no supernatural beings, not one character relies on psychic abilities to solve the mystery and the story is not top-loaded with inexplicable coincidences.
Then why am I concerned about the credibility factor? Because most of the characters are extraordinary in one particular way or another—they are smarter or richer or better looking or more successful than the people we all meet in real life. Or are they? I’ve met some extraordinary people. In my everyday life I’ve met word-class performers, notable artists, best-selling authors, famous scientists, successful business people and an heiress or two.
Maybe I should just keep writing and stop worrying about making sense in fiction? After all, fiction is full of over-the-top characters. Mystery fiction in particular is full of genius detectives, multimillionaire victims, beautiful models, retired members of military special-forces units, mad scientists and characters with extraordinary skill-sets (disarming bombs, safe cracking, cave-diving, B.A.S.E jumping, an encyclopedic knowledge of wine that would beat a certified sommelier or juggling).
Juggling? Yes. And here I am juggling a fictional crew that includes a multimillionaire art collector, a world-famous authority on Vermeer, a Madison Avenue gallerist, a Marine turned fitness model/security expert specializing in the transport of valuable works of art, and a former circus wire walker. Juggle, juggle, juggle…