you couldn't make this stuff up

Fiction writers always have to walk a tightrope. On the one hand, they need something in their writing that will grip readers. Often this "something" is unusual, an element that lifts the story from the humdrum of the familiar. On the other hand, if the writer includes too much incredible stuff, beta readers and editors (and readers, if it makes it that far) will typically slap them down for being silly, unrealistic, or failing to suspend disbelief.

Something that frustrates me as a writer is when reality dishes up a series of events within a timeframe that no-one would believe if it were a written as part of a fictional story. I believe in giving readers a fair experience — interesting, hopefully entertaining, but fair.

So it hurts when reality shows it can give us any damn thing it feels like, far beyond what would be considered plausible in fiction.

Last Monday was a day for Torontonians to gingerly check up on each other, especially if you knew people (or were a person) who would have been out protesting. "Are you okay?" and "What did you see?" were questions that were raised often. I started keeping a running mental list of everything that happened the week leading up to the summit debacle, and then started adding all the things that were due to happen either during the following (current) week, or the following weekend. It's pretty impressive:

Already happened

  • Thunderstorms — more than we're used to this time of year
  • A tornado touched down in Midland. This is not actually in Toronto, but it's close enough that it's "in the area."
  • We felt an earthquake. Okay, the epicentre was some ways outside of Ottawa, so we just got a little tremor, and even at the epicentre it wasn't a very big earthquake, but since it's been about ten years since we had a noticeable one, it was newsworthy.
  • The G20 rounded out the week.

Going to happen in the next few days

  • We're having a royal visit — and not just any royal, but the Queen herself. Interestingly, the hereditary monarch of the entire British Commonwealth needs less disruptive security than the bunch of suits who were supposedly elected by the same great unwashed who were protesting against them.
  • It's Canada Day tomorrow. I wonder how the protesters who sang "O Canada" and then got rushed by police as soon as they finished singing feel about that.
  • Oh, and there's tall ships and horse races and all the other "stuff" you'd expect to find in a Canadian city this time of year.
Imagine all that in a fictional story. Chapter 1 introduces the characters, the fence around the hot zone going up, the thunderstorms. Chapter 2 has the earthquake and tornado. Chapter 3 the riots happen, Chapter 4 is Canada Day, Chapter 5 establishes the Queen as an active character, then in Chapter 6 there's a bit of a lull where the tall ships show up and the horse races are run. Maybe the main characters can take in the ships and horses while something nefarious happens in the background.

How does it end? I don't know. Written out that way, it sounds like a discarded outline for Good Omens, before Pratchett & Gaiman decided to tone it down a little and stick more closely to the central Antichrist idea.

Anyone want to share some "so crazy it must be true" stories in the comments?