Welcome to my new series in this new year. I decided to call it – Let’s Have a Look. #LetsHaveALook
So what exactly will we be having a look at? How do I describe this? Random topics or incidence I come across in daily life – from reading or watching the news, to a blog I may have read that gives me pause, are things I’ll be looking at. A spontaneous thought if triggered about a why or that raises a question to myself – I’m going to bring discussion to the event or article here.
So, Let’s Have a Look!
Today’s post came about inspired by a reply from my author friend, #fantasy writer, Diana Peach, who mentioned in reply to my comment I’d left on her recent post, when she shared about how one of her characters in her WIP sometimes directs where the story leads.
I had commented that I have enough trouble writing nonfiction about real people – implying that I could only imagine all that is involved in the creating of characters and fantasy storylines and Diana responded with this:
“Part of me thinks it would be harder to write real people, Debby, because a non-fiction author is writing from a particular perspective as well as making interpretations about others, all the while trying to represent the truth. It’s easier to just make everything up! Lol. A post from you about how you navigate that would be really interesting.”
Okay Diana, here’s the post!
Well yes, Diana brought up a good question in her reply, and prompted me to respond with a post about perspective and truth when writing nonfiction as opposed to creating fictional characters – whom often hold many real truths within their characters as well. Is it harder writing about real people? Let’s have a look.
Okay, I thought it would be fun to look at our differing perspectives on difficulty differences between writing in fiction or nonfiction. Diana claims it’s easier to write fiction (in gest?) because, she claims ‘it’s easier to make stuff up’. But in my opinion, I think writing in every specific genre brings its challenges.
As Diana claims, writing nonfiction entails finding the right perspective, while interpreting what we believe to be our truth. That’s what nonfiction writing is in essence, but there are other conditions to take in consideration as well:
- The subject matter, and who will my story affect, regarding the ‘real’ characters in my stories?
- By telling a truth that involves other people in the story, we have to be careful with descriptions and identities to avoid getting sued.
- We don’t have the luxury to ‘alter’ a character in our story because that would be distorting the truth. So if that character has exhibited bad behavior, which is often a feature in our nonfiction/memoir stories, we have to take care how we present those people, leaving us having to be creatively truthful about exhibiting some of their most despicable behaviors.
I believe there are more barriers for nonfiction writers. Whether writing about characters or in an informative self-help nonfiction book, the author must speak truth, and facts must be varifiable. Anything left unchecked or untruthful, will certainly create pushback on the author.
On the other hand, writing fiction allows for a lot more room for creativity, but it still must be a coherent telling and the actions and scenery must depict the setting. A good example of keeping the story flowing accurately is a story I remember reading about a long time ago, regarding the importance of continuity. I’d read that when the movie Ben Hur was being filmed, someone had caught a man wearing a wrist watch in one huge crowded scene – not a good look while wearing a toga. Well, it’s not hard to figure out nobody had watches back in those biblical times so this was a major faux pas. But it’s a good example of little incidental things that may go unchecked and can hinder a story from keeping real and true to the time period the story reflects.
So in summation, in reply to Diana’s comment where she expressed that it is easier to write fiction, I don’t exactly agree with that because to produce a good story, having all the elements tie in, writing engaging characters, and not to mention, worldbuilding, I should think it is an equally intense task writing for fiction writers too. Every genre requires research whether it’s fantasy, historical or literary fiction, or nonfiction. It’s a lot of work to write a book – any book, as all us authors here know. So as much as I appreciate Diana’s nod to nonfiction, I’m nodding right back at her.
What do you peeps have to say? Do you think writing in any one particular genre is more difficult than another?
Original post from Diana for reference https://mythsofthemirror.com/2021/01/19/when-characters-mutiny/comment-page-1/#comment-80280