Monday, 4 January 2010

Incorporating the idiotic into fiction

In one of the fringe religious movements which I have studied there was a widespread belief, during the 1980s, that Smurf dolls were demonic. Among the urban legends which became current within the flock, were stories of these toys running screaming from meeting halls at the first mention of God. Or the little blue terrors would come to life and attack sleeping infants in their cots during the night. The idiocy was pervasive and it went along with the belief that all manner of things, especially second-hand goods, could be demonised - and the faithful were encouraged to destroy any possessions they had which might have become contaminated. They continue to believe in the frightening reality of demons but memories of Smurf episodes have been systematically buried.

Now, here's the problem: how do I portray such idiocy in my novel? Come off it, my readers will want to say. Nobody could be that daft, surely? Ah but they can be. Susan had a favourite teddy bear called Pookie. Still had it when she was fifteen. But then she came home from school one day to discover that Pookie had suffered the fate which all demons deserve and had been thrown onto a bonfire. And that's where Susan's road to freedom began.

Do you believe it's possible? I know that there are lots of folk out there who may well react by saying, "Hey, that's my story you're telling." It's lots of people's stories actually.

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