Westley participated in creative writing classes to learn some of the craft of how it should be done – on behalf of the reader. One of the most important things taught is that a book is a pact between the author and the reader. It was said that the creativity of fiction is that it can be truer than true. That’s partially because the story has structure and much of the chaos and confusion of real life is left out. Fiction should mimic real life, but intensify it in words. The pact here is that the author will lead the reader down the story’s path of knowledge, entertainment, satisfaction and in the end a memorable experience relevant to the reader’s life.
Why is this story compelling – to the author and the reader?
Imagine being caught in a moral dilemma, drama and conundrum not entirely of your own making; one in which there are no easy answers, and no obvious path to resolution. Imagine being accused of a crime and of being a bad person, the guilt, the angst and the grief of watching your dream implode. Imagine facing authority who doesn’t follow the rules which you are bound to, and which they have pledged fidelity to. Imagine the shock of facing a system that you believed in and thought of yourself as a benevolent participant, turned against you, accusing you of bad things. Imagine facing an ideology you previously could just ignore, but now is in control of your destiny. Imagine for the first time in your life you truly recognized the power and effect of moral mandates on a person as demonstrated by a magistrate and a superior court judge who readily substituted their personal moral mandates in place of the Rule of Law. Imagine your self-identity shaken to the core.
Said another way, what if you the reader became involved in some legal action against you and the legal system violated some of your fundamental rights, and you had clear distinctions about it all. The end justifies the means – the outcome decided first and when not supported by procedure or law, done anyway to achieve an outcome measured upon moral convictions of others, law notwithstanding.
So, the issue isn’t about something as simple as fairness. It’s about whether the law counts for anything in the judicial system, or can they do anything they want whether supported by law or not, and pretend it is.
It’s happened to a lot of people under various scenarios involving the “System”. We hear their stories and rationalize them and chose to dismiss them, or not, for various reasons, mostly unrelated to the actual truth of the story. There is a general undercurrent of distrust of the judicial system, but it’s vague and not well substantiated, just mostly intuition. We’ve all heard of judicial discretion and generally think of it as a normal and necessary factor in administering justice.
So, in addition to the story itself being intense and captivating, the short explanation of why this story is compelling is that Westley shows exactly how the judicial system corrupts justice through violations of the law they supposedly are bound to uphold. The legal aspects are part of the story and plot to the extent they can be told in the narrative without bogging it down.
A fundamental problem with telling this story is the complexity of it. Most people who experience it never understand what just happened, and proceed on with life forever bewildered, struggling with guilt and grief and just want to move on. Westley also wants to move on, but he also wants to understand what happened, and he wants to share that with the reader.
Really it’s a story within a story within a story. The Frame Story is the Narrative Therapy. An inner story is of the interaction with the system. Also there’s the story of the marriage relationship. Then there’s the inner story of the protagonist, Westley.
The legal issues, although definitely part of the drama, cannot be sufficiently analyzed within a normal dramatic narrative arc. Doing so would destroy the flow of the story. Since Westley’s whole career has been about making sense out of chaos, with numbers, he was compelled to make sense out of words and the law. It became apparent that the best way to do that was with a web page and blog.
The book is the story of the marriage to a foreign bride, Narciss.
The web page and blog are to analyze the legal issues thoroughly and utilize some of the material cut from the book.