Friday, March 25, 2011

Factual Fiction or Fictionalized Facts

When does fact turn into fiction? When an author writes a novel, of course.

One of the things that surprised me when I was looking for edits on the novel I wrote, was the number of comments about how real things needed to be. Okay, ‘things’ is a pretty generic term, so what do I mean. When describing a view from a recognizable restaurant, I had my proof readers putting themselves in that restaurant, looking out the windows and envisioning what was really there as opposed to what I described. They did this on their own. And even though they were reading a work of fiction, they still expected to be surrounded by reality and that reality needed to be accurate. If your novel includes scene descriptions in a certain area, let’s pick Alaska as an example, your scene has to be based in reality. You can’t put a maple tree in someone’s backyard or a blue jay in a birch tree when writing about Alaska. Neither one of those would occur, for real.

The amount of realism in a work of fiction doesn’t stop at contemporary or historical romances, either. Even science fiction and fantasy have certain realities that they must take into consideration. While listening to other people talk about their writing challenges you learn that a vampire will always need blood, because that is part of what defines a vampire. A gnome will not have fairy-like characteristics. That just wouldn’t be very gnom-a-nomic. And I’ve never seen a tree grow from the sky down.

This is one of those learning experiences that being a part of a writer’s group helped me understand, that I’m grateful for, and that I’d like to share with you. So, keep the facts in fiction or your readers may not be able to see the real deal.

Sandy Shacklett


Lynn Lovegreen said...

Very true. You have to know enough about the setting to keep things real for that setting. I've learned from my sci-fi friends that your sci-fi fiction has to be true to the rules of your world, even if you're creating that world from your imagination. You don't want your reader to go, "Wait a minute, that couldn't happen." or "Those trees won't grow there." One of the many challenges of writing, but that's what makes it so interesting, right?

Vee Worthy said...

Yeah, it's great when you use a real location...and it's also not so great. People who live in that area are going to let you know if you get it wrong!
Good post!

Anonymous said...

Very good post-thanks. Those reality checks are important and not always easy to make real.

Darryl Prosperie said...

I like the alliteration in the title of this post. It always bothers me when authors of romance books make mistakes citing regionally specific things like flora and fauna.It is nitpicky but it definitely brings me out of a story when writers do things like that.