As an author of supernatural thrillers, it’s a question I’ve heard a time or two before. In my experience, the single most important aspect to good storytelling is what I call the “Reality Factor.” We’ve all read a book, seen a movie, that should have worked but didn’t. There are a ton of factors that may contribute to its failure, but at the core, I’m confident you’ll find a lack of reality as the main culprit.
You may have seen a similar idea floating around–suspension of disbelief. The term suspension of disbelief is defined as a willingness to suspend one's critical faculties and believe the unbelievable; sacrifice of realism and logic for the sake of enjoyment.
While in the ballpark, I don’t altogether agree. Terms such as unbelievable, and sacrifice of realism and logic come down to one’s point of view. Where our viewpoints intersect, what we have in common, is in fact, reality. Reality is a point of view, nothing less and nothing more. Our viewpoints can be experienced, shared, and broadened by communicating our reality to others—in short, good storytelling.
To that end, ALL my stories are steeped in reality. At least, reality from my point of view.
Oh, Ye Of Little Faith
Allow me to elucidate. My most recently published Lance Underphal Mystery, Grey Daze takes on an eclectic variety of subjects. Not the least of which is the rise in crimes against the elderly. In and of itself it’s nothing new and about as real as it gets. Unfortunately, for my family and I, it came much too close to home.
My elderly uncle was in his mid-eighties at the time, living in his home alone in San Bernardino, CA. He was my mother’s brother, a teacher in the San Bernardino school system, and a bachelor all his life. He would make the trip out to visit us in Arizona during the holidays. Age slowed his step and we all noticed the slight diminution of his mental faculties. Otherwise, he seemed to be doing well. Little did we know.
Alarmed, my uncle’s financial adviser called my father out of the blue, concerned about large withdrawals from his retirement accounts. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in a short period of time. Out of character for my miserly uncle. Hell, we had no idea he had that kind of money saved up. More alarming, his financial adviser reported he was getting married, and that he’d been seen at the bank with a young Latino woman withdrawing large sums of cash from his checking account. This made no sense. My uncle was gay.
My father was bedridden at the time, suffering with rheumatoid arthritis. He called me and my brother to his bedside to inform us. We went to work. The first call I made was to my uncle, who vehemently denied everything and told me it was none of my business—a wildly uncharacteristic response. I heard the woman in the background coaching him. Next call was to the San Bernardino Police who claimed their hands were tied. It got worse, the situation deteriorated. We became concerned for his life when we found out there were attempts made to change the beneficiary on his life insurance policy to his supposed wife-to-be.
Eventually, I managed to convince my uncle that my mother, his sister, needed to see him. We immediately sent a private investigator to my uncle’s home to pick him up and bring him to Arizona. By the time we convinced him to stay with us, more than six hundred thousand dollars of his retirement savings had been stolen. He was left almost penniless, but at least he was alive and safe. He spent the rest of his days near my mother, in my brother’s home.
Of course, the uncle character depicted in Grey Daze is very different. After all, I write fiction, which is to say I embellish to my imagination’s limit and get to call it artist license. Yet as a starting point, the basis in reality is there.
Create Your Own Reality
I invite you to explore my stories for points of reality we can share. And just perhaps, you’ll take a small portion of my reality on faith.
Michael Allan Scott
The cross-genre supernatural mystery/thriller books, Dark Side of Sunset Pointe, Flight of the Tarantula Hawk, and Grey Daze, are available on Amazon. Cut-Throat Syndrome, the next book in the series, is due out soon.
You may also check out the book trailers for Dark Side of Sunset Pointe and Flight of the Tarantula Hawk On YouTube.
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