I just saw an article about a romance author on trial for the murder of her husband. The article related that the judge in her case had ruled that her blog titled, “How to Murder Your Husband” could not introduced in the trial. (Link to the article here).
I swear, we just can’t make this stuff up. I mean if we write a story with a killer who wrote a blog about how to kill first — we’d get reviews saying no one is that stupid.
Real life can be weirder than fiction.
Now I don’t know if this author is truly guilty, but that headline sure grabbed my attention. And here’s why: We don’t see our own flaws and often can’t even recognize our own mistakes, like blogging about a murder then actually doing it. But we can sure see those mistakes in others! And we can often see them more clearly in fictional characters as they live out their lives on the pages. I could actually write a villain that’s so arrogant, he or she’d be sure they could convince the jury that they would never write a blog like that if they were going to kill their spouse, and therefore he or she had to be innocent. They’d be convincing too, and even the reader would wonder…was that true? Were the police and D.A. wrong?
Or was that person truly a killer that thought he was smarter than everyone else? The reader would hopefully begin to see how that killer is manipulating other’s emotions and influencing their thinking and ultimately their decision.
That’s what makes fiction so compelling; we can mirror both the good and the bad of mankind. We can show how rational people are swayed by con artists and killers, or how the day is saved by a smarter and more prepared prosecutor or maybe an average juror who rises to the challenge of sticking to the facts. We can show it all, and because it’s fiction, readers will follow along without the defensiveness and preconceived ideas that often comes into play in real people. Or in a romance, we can show the power of love even to the skeptic if the story is compelling enough.
I love fiction. I like nonfiction too. But the power of story can transcend our defenses to teach us so many things about ourselves and those around us.
Circling back to the original point of this article, if I ever had a criminal intent, I sure hope I’m smart enough not to write a blog about it first, LOL! But I might write a character who does…because fictional characters can be as fascinating and flawed as real people!