Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Debi does quantum

So Little Guy was explaining to me about the co-existence of multiple universes, which I vaguely recognised (mainly thanks to Philip Pullman) as being a principle of quantum physics. And they say education is dumbing down ...

Anyway, that got me thinking. What if, when we create a fictional reality, that too has an independent life of its own? Would that explain the spooky feeling we sometimes get as writers that our stories exist outside of our will, even though we created them?

When I finished writing my first book, Nirvana Bites, for example, I never intended the characters to reappear in subsequent books. But somehow, they muscled their way in. I justified their inclusion on the grounds that I had given these characters life and now they would be continuing those lives whether I wrote about them or not - so I might as well.

Sounds crazy, but that's exactly how it felt. Plots too can sometimes feel eerily prescient, even as you create them.

And here's another parallel. You come up with a character. You see what they look like and how they react to the situations you put them in. But - for me anyway - you may well not know why they are the way they are. You have to wait for them to trust you enough to tell you.

That's exactly the same in real life when you meet someone new. Say it's a colleague. You see them daily. You know who they live with, if they have children, where they go on holiday, what their favourite food is ... But you might not know why they become defensive on a particular subject, or perhaps you notice they seem to over react to something trivial ...

It's only after you've known them for some time that you find out what it was in their past or background that caused that particular reaction. Maybe they tell you themselves or you might hear it from someone else. Either way, the pieces suddenly fall into place and you think,
'Aha! That explains it ...'

Well, it's true for fiction too. I know that's hard to wrap your head round (like quantum theory isn't?) but I swear it's true.

In my WIP, my main protagonist is not a likable character (though I hope that readers will still care about what happens to her). She's manipulative, a snob, irrational and often a real bitch. In the back of my mind, I always wondered what had made her like that but waited patiently for the story to evolve.

I watched her get pregnant against her long-suffering husband's will. I noted the wedge she'd driven between him and his brother; her profligate spending in denial of their financial straits; her plunge into depression matching their plummet down the social ladder; her total meltdown when things go tragically wrong.

And now, over 50,000 words in, she has finally revealed her secrets to me. The secrets she had hidden from her shrink and even from herself.

And ... it all fits! No re-writes needed, at the most a minor tweak here and there. It makes complete sense and its utterly pivotal to the plot I've been writing.

So - in scientific terms - how can that be explained if not by some quirk of quantum theory, meaning the fictional worlds we create are as real as this one?

And there we have it: Alper's theory of fictional reality. You saw it first here.

PS: You just gotta love a scientific theory that includes something called a charmed quark - not a new vegan foodstuff, but according to here, 'a type of quark with a mass of c. 1.0 to 1.6 GeV/c, a positive charge that is the charge of an electron, +1 charm, and zero strangeness.' Got that?

16 comments:

SueG said...

Ooh, I just love this!!

JJ Beattie said...

What a fab post. Thank you.

BarbaraS said...

And that reminds me of Hawkwind's album, Quark, Strangeness and Charm' - sorry, I'll just get me coat, shall I...?

Debi said...

Me too, Sue!

Hi - JJ. Great to see you here. It's rare for me to meet new people in Real Life before we get together in the blogosphere.

Babs - no! Don't go. I didn't know about that album ...

Tania Hershman said...

Ah, Debi, Debi, the latest convert to the wonders of quantum physics!! I love your theory, that makes immense sense to me, that we writers are actually writing down something that is happening in a parallel universe that we are getting some access too - or, rather, that we are creating that parallel universe as we write, is that what you were saying? Anyhow, I love it. And "charmed quark" is just the tip of the beautiful-physics-terminology iceberg. Last week on my trip to the physics department I learned about "catastrophe optics" and "quantum carpets"!!

Debi said...

Is that what I was saying, Tania? I think so - both of those.

It's mindblowing stuff - I'm a total convert. Thanks for adding 2 new terms to my lexicon. Still think 'zero strangeness' wins the prize!

mutleythedog said...

You should be careful of making up unbelievable characters...

Debi said...

Thus speaks the talking dog!

mutleythedog said...

There are a lot of talking dogs in literature...hmmph!

Debi said...

Don't take offense, Muts. You are, of course, my favorite literary dawg.

Mesh Boyd said...

Really fun Debi! Cool read.

Debi said...

Cheers, Mesh.

Coyle said...

HAHA! This read made my day! As a physicists, I have never thought of this!

andrew christian said...

Like this read - made me think~!

Debi said...

Welcome, Coyle. Don't get to see many physicists round these here parts.

Welcome, Andrew too. Made you think, eh? Job done.

日月神教-向左使 said...
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