Taking Liberties: The Smoking Mirror

Using existing civilizations as a base for fantasy worlds would be an absolute pain if it were not for one thing…liberties. As writers, we are allowed to take liberties by twisting reality, using a beloved technique known as artistic license. After all, one of the best things about being a writer is that we get to show truth more clearly by using false realities. Or twisted realities. Or non-realities. Whichever you prefer. I shall define it as–

That which is not a perfect image of reality, but the view of reality reflected in an obsidian mirror.

Obsidian was what the Aztecs used to make mirrors. Sometimes translated as smoking mirrors, they have a direct connection to the Aztec god Tezcatlipoca, Lord of the Smoking Mirror. He had a smoking mirror which revealed a person’s heart.

So, writing is our obsidian mirror; the revelation of truth.

However, the heart of a person is not the same as the outward appearance of a person. To find the heart, you must strip away the exterior, the lies, the masquerade…by using an awesome mirror.

This is where taking liberties comes in.

If I were taking the mythology and culture of the Aztecs and just writing them out, exactly as they are now, where would the fun be? The excitement of discovery? The inspiration? It would be like a well written internet article, and there would be no point except to educate.

So we twist. We manipulate. We add what fits our vision, and we cut out what we don’t like. Thus, we create a world of our own; a vision realized in words. We hide truth in our carefully crafted, completely unrealistic world, and give it to the reader to find for themselves.

Now I want an obsidian mirror to hang above my writing desk….



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