I was listening to an episode of The Confessionals podcast this morning. I am intrigued by stories people tell of supernatural/paranormal events because…well, that’s what I write. If you can get the teller’s consent, “Based on a True Story” is a good advertisement for a story.
I’m pretty open-minded and tend to be believing in personal stories about such events. I have had some strange things happen to me. I feel I can explain them, but only if you believe in the things I believe in…like God, angels, and demons. I have some ingrained hurdles to belief in some things I hear based on my professions. I don’t call people liars, but I don’t mind saying, “I don’t believe it.” Maybe that amounts to the same thing…if so, nothing personal is intended and I full well admit the trouble may be with my own beliefs.
Anyway, the point of today’s blog is to say that listening to people tell their stories on paranormal podcasts may turn me into an editor. While listening to their stories, I keep hearing Elaine, my favorite editor, whispering in my ear…it doesn’t work, the story is inconsistent, you said ____ a paragraph ago. And of course, when I look, she is always right.
When I am told that I am being inconsistent in my story line…no worries…I’m lying, making things up as I go. Not a problem for me, I can go back and correct it. But, if you are actively speaking about a paranormal encounter and sound to be credible to me, your story…characters, setting, time, date, all have to be consistent through the entire story.
Moreover, it has to make some kind of sense. To be a credible take on the paranormal, the teller needs to have eliminated natural explanations…or at least tried and offer some explanation of what they think happened. For example, if you see an angel, why was the angel there? I just don’t buy that they appear simply for you to see them. That story goes nowhere…and stories go somewhere if they are real.
Now, the teller of the story may be completely wrong about the why involved, but if you say the thought never crossed your mind…you lost me. Moreover, the has to make some kind of sense. Judge Judy is quick to tell those she hears that if it doesn’t make sense, it’s a lie. Just saying. To be a credible take on the paranormal, the teller needs to have eliminated natural explanations…or at least tried.
When I’m not playing editor, my inner nurse keeps kicking in with things like, “if you see something, it’s massive and only you can see it…nursing has an explanation for that, it’s a hallucination. Tripping you can see some very strange things…you’ll have to take my word on this. They seem very real, but you look around and nobody is reacting to what you see except you…yep, you are hallucinating again.
This harkens back to the idea of making sense. I mean, sure you’re a terrific, unique person, but a giant alien craft that fills the sky, visible only to you though others might be looking…nope not buying it. The same thing goes for the multiplicity of unrelated or quasi-related encounters recalled when mentioned by others. During my psych rotation in nursing school, we were cautioned from the beginning against reading and attempting self-diagnosis. There’s a little bit of every disorder in all of us, but none of us has it all.
Will I stop listening to weird tales people tell? Not on your life. Bring them on, I’m listening.