Realities Expressed in Fiction

By:  Peter Wells

Great fiction illuminates ‘Reality’ and does not run from, or seek to divert us from it: that is the sense I have of it when I write. There is a difference of attitude between the entertainer and the Illuminator, and I aspire to be an Illuminator. It is a noble ambition, I feel, and I am not going to say I am currently successful at it. I will say that is what I am trying to be and it is what motivates me to carry on writing. All the time I want to gather the unschooled impressions I absorb in general life and distil them into a concentrated experience which will help me define and understand my brief time on this earth. I am not seeking to be pretentious, because you can have this goal and still write awful rubbish, and I have certainly achieved that goal.

All that being said, for me, the most important part of writing a scene is to be in it. To live it so completely, that you can wander round the set and among the people in it and observe every object in the virtual room and every nuance of the characters you portray. The more clearly you see it and them, the better you will record the scene. So “seeing clearly” is always my first goal, before I put a word on the page. If I cannot see clearly what it is I wish to describe, be it an emotion or social earthquake, how am I to convey it to my readers?

For that to be done, you need to live the experience you are to write about before you start recording it on screen or paper. Many authors talk of how their characters start bossing them about from the page by telling the would-be author, “I will not marry him,” or “Forget about me going to that place,” and therefore force the baffled scribe to move the plot and scene in a quite different direction to the one he originally imagined.

Photo courtesy of Stacy Garrett, Photographer

Photo courtesy of Stacy Garrett, Photographer

The final measure, for me at least, is this: could these fictitious events or emotions have actually occurred, and do they illuminate mankind as we all know him to be. Have I got enough cowardice in the brave or reluctant bravery in the coward? Have I illuminated thoroughly, the way a person can be both hero and villain in the same life? When I look in the mirror of a morning, quite apart from being appalled by the level of grooming made visible, I ask “What is going on here Wells?” and the answer is always multi-layered. That’s how real people think, and I endeavour to make my characters wonder at themselves in the same way. The genre is a matter of taste, and great authors often write in several genre. Read “The First Man on The Moon” by my namesake H.G.Wells, and you will marvel at how he brings his people to life so that we read, smile and nod our heads. That “Yes” we feel helps us turn the page. It was H.G.Wells who described the British as “Quietly shy to the point of madness.” How rich, economical and multi-layered is that brief description of a nationality.

As I’ve said before, it is an aim which inspires me to write, but I do not underestimate the difficulty of achieving it. If it was easy to do, I would seek satisfaction in other ways, but when I read great fiction, and see how the characters are delineated so beautifully, and how they move through the plot, sometimes like trout caught upon the line of fate, the words become art to me, and the plot a piece of music. If I write in that manner, if only for a sentence or a paragraph, I am heartened by my efforts. I have no wish to write in any other way.




Peter Wells, who has lived by the maxim, “If you can meet with triumph and disaster, and treat those two imposters just the same” has had a life, working in the corporate, financial and self-employed worlds, and in his spare time has enjoyed adventures on a number of continents and sailing over several seas. His writing is inspired by his working and traveling life, and the people he has met through them. He now lives just south of London and is the proud father of three daughters.