The Help Within

Friday, August 19, 2011

Help Within

The recent movie, The Help, has let loose a fury of controversy: is the story historical fiction, nonfiction posing as fiction or just naive writing. Academic writing is different from nonfiction writing is different than fiction. With the former two, the writer must be committed to factual accuracy and authentic, primary sources to the extent they can be found. With fiction, the process provides more freedom to the writer as the characters begin to take up residence in the writer’s mind and begin to kick the walls of the cerebellum for attention. Most often for me it happens during a solo walk or weeding the garden, but always in the act of being solo. I think that every fiction writer is born growing these characters in their mind and listening to their voices, not unlike the schizophrenic but to a much lesser degree. The fiction writer puts the story down on paper/computer letting the story take free reign; the schizophrenic is trapped by the voices and the mind becomes trapped by their dominance. Most often the fiction writer’s stories never leave the privacy of the writer’s home. If they do find their way to publication, most die on the vine as far as generating sales, but many readers still find them enjoyable. When a book such as The Help garners a national readership and then makes its way to the big screen, it is precisely because the characters have taken hold of the soul of the reader and given it a vigorous shake. It is the job of the individual reader and viewer to decide what the cause of the rumble is for them.

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