Monday, July 12, 2010

The reality in fiction

I feel small compared to the grand landscape of things.
(Photo courtesy of my son, who had to take pictures of buildings designed by D. Burnham in Chicago.)

Fiction writing doesn't mean we lie.  I forgot where I read that. Real time, real places, and real people living or deceased need to be considered in the setting we create. I learned this quite early on in seeking publication.  Let's just say I added props that did not exist during the time of my story. I'm glad I posted that piece and was brought down to reality.  The reality in fiction is that we can't ignore the truth inherent in what we write. We cannot lie.

Tidbits to remember:

Historical fiction: Don't forget the historical part. I did.  Writing fiction in the context of things that have happened need to be correct and verifiable.  You may get away with it for a tad bit, but someone will catch it and there goes your credibility...out a window that didn't exist in the 13th century.

Mystery/Suspense:  If your plot surrounds a crime scene be sure to do your research.  Police stations usually allow civilians to ride around with them or call and ask questions. 

Science Fiction and Fantasy:  This genre allows for a more broader scope of fiction, however, be forewarned that rules and guidelines need to apply to the world you create.  This should be done early on to avoid confusion later.   

Other things to consider:
Wardrobe, weapons, transportation, climate--not just weather, but social and political climate as well.

As fiction writers we tell tales, we never lie.


  1. You betcha that someone will catch you if you don't do your homework! My very first reviewer (why did it have to be the first, sigh!) caught a word that I used about 50 years before it should have been. Everybody else missed it, me, the line editors, etc...

    One word wrong out of 100,000. And I got caught! Figures, huh?

  2. Great advice! One of my first crits said my novel was anachronistic. How can fantasy be anachronistic?!? But when I sat down and thought about it, I realized he was right. It's all in the details.

  3. How very true! The story I just finished is set mostly in 1881 and I did a lot of research on the time and places my characters visited, including making certain the game 'twenty questions' wasn't played yet.

  4. And I thought fiction would be easy. LOL. Thanks for your comments.


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