Friday, April 6, 2012

F is for Fact or Fiction

Is this story true? It's fiction... But is it true?

(Image link)

So, at work I get an hour lunch break which gets boring fast even while eating. Right now I am bringing The Hunger Games to read since people have been waiting for me to read it for years now. One of my coworkers noticed the book and asked "do you know if it's based off a true story?"

Yeah, I stared at her confused for a moment. A true story where teens are sent to kill each other as tributes? Umm I hope not.

It is amazing how many people want a story/poem/etc to be based off real life. I notice this in the reviews I get over at (which is basically a writing site that allows for others to review the work). It doesn't matter what the item is about, often people will think it's a true and about the author. Several different poems and short stories I've received reviews for on there have all commented about it in a way that they think it's really about me. That includes a story with an intersex main character. Doesn't matter what the writing is about, they often construe the story to be about fact instead of just fiction.

Ever notice that with published work that people try to find ways to relate the story or the main character to the author's real life? Sometimes it's the positive interest of "ooo is this based on something real" and other times it's about things like "is this a mary sue character or author wish fulfillment" and such. Any time a reader wanders if a fiction story is real, it makes me wonder.

Is it because the writing feels so realistic? I try to hope that it's a good sign when it comes to my own writing that people make the comment but it still feels weird at times. While there are things that we base on real life, interactions, some dialogue, character traits, etc... There is a bit of a difference between life-like and fact.

Or is there some desire to have a factual connection within fiction?


What do you think?
Do you ever try to find facts within fiction?
Ever have readers want to know what is fact in your writing?


DeniseCovey_L_Aussie said...

Hi Dawn. This is a good post. I guess one thing that makes a story seem real is that people need to be able to relate to some aspect of a character. I know I love a movie even more when 'This is based on a true story' comes onto the screen.


Dawn Embers said...

Denise - That is interesting. For me it depends on the story when it comes to the "based on a true story" part. Often it doesn't affect my interest in the movie, but that's me. Thanks for the comment :-) on this post.

The Muse said...

I think some people have a bias against fiction. They think fiction can't be true (they are wrong!)Then when they find something that IS true in a work of fiction, they try and justify it by saying it has some basis in fact.

Patsy said...

I've come across this too, even among other writers who you'd think would understand that sometimes fiction is just made up.

The Hopeful Romantic said...

i tthink there is a certain credibiliy that comes from something 'based on true events'...we've seen it in complete works of ficttion like the Blair Witch Project and more recent retellings and diversions from fact such as U571 (i think that was what the film was called anyway)... and so, with the way of all things the default question, as you have pointed out, the "was this based on true events" becomes near fact.

Personally, I tend to take real events (mine and others) and sometimes relay as is and sometimes add similar situations together to present a point. It does make me wonder - does this make them now works of fiction or are they still based on real events? I like the latter.

Re the Hunger Games point *snort* - the whole teens killing each other though....hmmm. Common theme in fiction - a slighlt better example (IMO) being Battle Royale.

Good post Dawn - enjoyed thinking through that!

Susan Kane said...

Good post--that question always is posed or thought. "Is this based on your experience..."

We all bring all that we are when we write. Certainly our life experiences flavor our writing. But, then we could never write about anything else in fiction.

Dawn Embers said...

The Muse - It's interesting because I prefer something I know if fiction, though I have a few nonfiction things over the years.

Patsy - hmm, yeah the site I get it on is full of writers. Odd how certain people in particular look for that link.

The Hopeful Romantic - True, there are some ones that are "based on true stories" and that makes them appeal to more, especially horror and such. Thanks for the comment.

Susan Kane - Hi there. That is true that we can bring some elements of our own life but then we move beyond that. I never liked that whole "write what you know" for that reason, cause it felt like limiting to only what I know.