Fiction not a very original topic from a writer one might think but today I want to talk about the fine line where two F’s meet, that is the blurred border between fact and fiction.
Often writers are told write what you know, well if we took that too literally there would be a lot of very boring books out there which revolved around getting up going to work coming home and watching TV before going to bed to repeat on a daily basis. On the other hand fact can be stranger than fiction and many of us have heard if not experienced things which if written in a book we would dismiss as too far fetched.
The art of writing fiction is a journey into the places we have not always or cannot physically travel, we will never know what the year 3000 will be like, we do not know what it was like to live in medieval times, or what lies in wait in far off galaxies but we have to persuade the reader that the vision we present is possible. We have to evoke the suspension of belief, give enough relate-able information to make the dream tangible, and the only way we can do that is through shared common experiences. We need to depict fear in a way that the reader recognises and stands their hairs on the back of the neck up, describe the feeling of falling in a love in a way which makes the reader smile despite their own experiences of a broken heart.
Write what you know does not mean write the mundane it means write what the next person can relate to in its most primitive form, we may have experienced the details differently but fiction no matter what its genre is fundamentally about the shared human experience of emotions even those we would prefer to deny we have knowledge of.
What does write what you know mean to you?
3 thoughts on “A to Z Challenge 2014 – F is for Fiction”
I’d never thought about that phrase meaning anything other than the obvious as I tend to ignore it completely. Although I suppose it is saying that you must write what you can make seem believable; don’t write a scientific book about the cure of cancer and use scientific terms if you can’t make the readers believe that you know what you’re talking about or you can be found out to be a ‘fraud’. I don’t know. You’ve posed me with a very interesting question. I must come back to this.
I guess one way to look at it is can a virgin write a sex scene, the answer is of course yes, they can write how they think it will be, but can they write one that someone who has had sex will relate to then the chances are no, because they have no idea of the physical feelings involved, the sensations the way certain things happen in real life, that is not to say that a sexually active person will need to use exact details to describe the act but they will know what is real and what is a more realistic experience that others can relate to especially as it is usually so far removed from the ideas most people have before experiencing it
To me it means the feelings and emotions I understand.