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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Gossip sparks curiosity, provides humble lessons

by Kevin Scott Collier

Gossip has an attractive quality among the petty and curious. I have witnessed in social settings the girl dishing the most dirt entertaining a captive audience. Gossips do so because they are have nothing interesting about themselves to talk about but to speak assumptions of others gives them attention and power.

Gossips are entertaining buffoons. Gossip in children and teen fiction stories can be a powerful thing, too, but as a lesson, not as affirmation of credibility.

I love to write stories that spin perceptions. Where credibility is lost on assumptions and the most credible are those who say things who usually know what they are talking about. Just imagine a confidant in your life disclosing something to you that later proves to be in error. Even honest individuals acquire misguided information and pass it on by mistake.

I believe any great story for kids has to be ripe with innuendo, gossip, assumption and rumor. As said earlier, this petty dialog attracts the curious. The “curious” in this regard is your reader. As an author, do you want to play them? Do you want to string them along based on misinformation? Do you want to teach them a good lesson in communication? Sure … why not?

In my sequel to the 2005 Baker Trittin Press book, “Esther’s Channel”, I am going to play with my audience. I am going to be that dishing-dirt girl at the social event. I’m going to open some eyes with some amazing claims. And you, the reader, will not know what is true and what is not. Not until the end, anyway.

Such is life. Information is only as good as the messenger. Opinion has replaced fact. Commentary has replaced truth. Assumptions have replaced reality. Preacher Joel Osteen recently relayed on his TV program that if you don’t speak up to define yourself, someone else will. Often we are quick to believe a messenger than the source. Whatever happened to being suspicious of messengers? Don’t they lie or exaggerate, too?

Gossip creates great drama. A rumor is always more outrageous than the truth. Truth is often mundane and uneventful. But a twisted perception can spark enormous curiosity. Life becomes more exciting, and there is simply more to talk about. Who cares if it is nonsense, as long as you have a captive audience? We’ll resort to damage control later when the truth emerges and everyone retreats once the drama subsides. Who cares what was the truth then? It was pretty exciting imagining this great charade, was it not?

I would encourage authors to incorporate innuendo, gossip, assumption and rumor into their stories for youth. The key to good fiction is to keep a reader guessing. Not knowing what is true or untrue until the end compels a reader to judge the credibility of characters along the way. This formula fosters more intelligent readers, for only a fool would believe everything they hear.

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