The current story I’m writing, Wanderer of Worlds, covers a scope of six books and includes points of view from one main character and three major, impacting characters. Three of them are Wanderer based while the fourth is the assassin – or Hunter – that Wanderers inevitably attract once they start travelling illegally between the worlds.
There’s a scene involving an assassination that I’ve recently rewritten. The first time I wrote it, it was interesting to read (says my co-writer) and it was certainly fun to write… but Linda had a brilliant question: why would an Authority Hunter use that particular technique? Her suggestions were many and varied but inappropriate for the Hunter in question, however her point was spot on and smacked of the strongest issue of all: credibility. It was incredible that a Hunter would approach his prey in the manner I’d written, and so that scene had to go. I love it, and may use it in a different story with different characters, but it’s not for Wanderer of Worlds.
When I first tackled the scene, I was trying to demonstrate the assassin’s ruthlessness… but I did it at the cost of professionalism. This particular assassin has military training, has military approved targets and would use particular tactics. Since the military in this case are world based ‘Authorities’ and not Earth based army, navy or air-force, I have a lot wiggle room when it comes to creative licence with weaponry and tracking techniques. I don’t have wiggle room when it comes to credibility and likelihood, however. I have to have some parallel to our world’s military techniques, in order to be believable.
I read somewhere that the best fantasy is the one that is least fantastical. I’m paraphrasing here, but that was the gist. I take that to mean that credibility still has to come first. It’s a shame I can’t remember the quote proper or who said it in the first place, but I take it to mean that every fantasy (even the surreal ones) has to have motivation and credibility behind the characters’ actions for a reader to relate and be absorbed into the writing. I’ve read some way out weird fiction which was still relatable, so this is how I view the quote, and it’s something that I will always keep in mind while writing.
So the assassin’s scene changed… instead of approaching the car on foot, my Hunter is now up a tree at a distance, sniping. Things happen to force him to approach the car on foot, but after writing it again, I know this second version is more believable than the first. I managed to show my Hunter’s ruthlessness without sacrificing his professionalism. Even though what I’ve learned from sniping is from books, documentaries and movies, I believe my reader will be in a state of suspended disbelief at worst and caught up in the tension and action at best.
Now excuse me for a moment, I have seven more scenes with my Hunter to deal with.