Saturday, September 17, 2011

Fiction and Fact ... Let's Weigh In

Okay ... let's define fiction. One source states that fiction is an imaginative creation or a pretense that does not represent actuality but has been invented. Invented, imaginative creation ... how should that work? Well, maybe we could categorize it by genre. After all, fantasy and science fiction stories create worlds and the things in it far beyond our scope of reality. But what about genres like mystery or suspense? Should authors stick to reality-based scenarios and details ... or does it really matter?

I have to say that when I read, my mind opens up to accept just about any possibility. Mystery is indeed my favorite genre, so I'm going to focus on that. So, you have some characters, a setting, events belonging to the plot -- beginning, middle, and end. You're reading along and you come to an event where you think, "Nah uh! No way could that happen!" But it just did, and then more details are layered in to validate this event. But you're still thinking, "That just doesn't happen in real life." Real life? I thought we were talking fiction here. Fiction is imaginary. It doesn't have to happen in real life, unless it's true crime fiction we're talking about. And boy, if you listen to some of those stories given on the six o'clock news ... talk about unreal!

I guess what I'm trying to justify, and maybe it's only a personal preference, fiction doesn't have to be totally realistic. Sure, it should make sense. What happens to the characters should fit with the details of the story. What might seem improbable is quite possible in the world of fiction. It's part of why I escape into those worlds I find when reading and can say how much I enjoy the experience. Certainly, there are different rules for different genres, but it all boils down to one fact. It's fiction, folks. Only fiction where anything could happen.

Of course, this is my take on it. What do you think? Should certain genres stick to reality-based facts, where if it isn't plausible in real life, then leave it out? Weigh in.

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4 comments:

DJ Lutz said...

I have seen this problem of fiction-must-be-real many times. When I wrote a mystery, I am told quite often that "a police detective would not say "xxx" rather he would say "yyy." It's fiction! My detective will say what he wants to say! I try to focus on telling the good story using well developed characters. That's hard enough, for me.

teacherwriter said...

DJ ... I so agree! That's one of the fun things about writing ... I get to be the creator! It's my fictional world. Besides, there are lots of situations where fact IS stranger than fiction. So, why wouldn't fiction be given the same opportunity to be what we'd like it to be :-)

Thanks for the feedback, DJ!

Jamie Brook Thompson said...

I agree on creating your own story. But so many times in critique groups people blame bad writing on "what their character wants to do" rather than take the time to learn the craft. It's okay if you have an eccentric character. Just make sure to back him or her up with awesome writing!
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teacherwriter said...

Jamie, It is a touchy area, isn't it? And so subjective sometimes in how each person sees it.

Thanks for writing and I will be sure to check out your blog :-)