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  1. #1
    Kitty Foyle
    Guest

    "Fictionalized Nonfiction"

    Whenever I drop into the Poughkeepsie library I read a magazine called [i] The Writer [i]. (I hope that appeared in italics, but I probably loused it up.) In this month's issue, one of the readers (Robert A. Hall) sent a letter to the editor in response to an article written by Ralph Keyes in the September issue.

    He wrote: "Anything labelled "nonfiction" should reflect the exact truth to the best of the writer's ability. This includes those who titivate memoirs, autobiographies and resumes with fiction. Lying -- let's call it what it is -- does more than break contract with the reader. Since everything we read shapes our worldview, "fictionalized nonfiction" is hardly nugatory."

    ("Titivate" and "nugatory" are words I don't see very often.)

    Does anyone have any comments about this reader's opinion?

    ^_^



  2. #2
    Kitty Foyle
    Guest

    Re: "Fictionalized Nonfiction"

    Boy, I loused it up all right. Didn't undo the italics bit. Sorry 'bout that!

    ^_^

  3. #3
    Paul Cilwa
    Guest

    Re: "Fictionalized Nonfiction"

    I agree with him--I think, though I may be titivating slightly. But this needs to be put into perspective. When the ruler of the country announces "Mission Accomplished!" years before a couple of thousand more soldiers have died--when reducing school funding is called "No Child Left Behind" and a law that gives free reign to corporations to pollute is called the "Clean Air" act--you have to acknowledge that we live in a society that seems to have little grasp of the difference between truth and fiction anyway.

    What he's complaining about is the Orwellian world in which we find ourselves. But it's the world that's at fault, not just a few writers.

  4. #4
    Rozinante
    Guest

    Re: "Fictionalized Nonfiction"

    I agree with him, too. Fiction and non-fiction are not crossover concepts. They are anti-thetical concepts. Period.

    I have nothing against using fiction narrative techniques to tell non-fiction stories but I violently recoil when fiction itself is indistinguishably interlaced into what's supposed to be non-fiction. An example of the former is using a central personality (a protagonist) to tell a larger story (ex: a single soldier's experience to tell about WWII). An example of the latter is to insert private dialogue that is undocumented and unreported anywhere by the original sources. That's fiction and belongs only in novels.

    Also agree with Paul. Way too much tragic and Orwellian fiction being perpetrated these days.

  5. #5
    Joe Zeff
    Guest

    Re: "Fictionalized Nonfiction"

    Don't give all the blame to the current president, Paul. His predicessor was no paragon of truth, either. I'm not going to get into the pros and cons of that, because this isn't the place. I just wanted to bring a little more balance to the thought.

  6. #6
    Paul Cilwa
    Guest

    Re: "Fictionalized Nonfiction"

    Joe, I agree with you. Fictionalizing truth has been a political trend for probably fifty years, maybe more. Orwell didn't make it up; he was extrapolating from the current trends of his own time.

    The good news is, it has now gotten so blatant that even the most ardent sheeple can barely ignore it. So maybe that pendulum can start swinging in the other direction.

  7. #7
    Prince Louis Richard de la Pau
    Guest

    Re: "Fictionalized Nonfiction"

    It depends on the type of non-fiction - creative and non-creative.

    Sometimes, you can add in certain fictional moments into a non-fiction story simply because they should be there for artistic purposes. It makes the text more legible. But this is for 'based on actual events' books.

    If you're doing biographies or autobiographies, then I feel strongly that fiction should be kept out.

    And if you're doing historical studies, then everything should be traceable and footnoted.

    Just my two shillings worth.

  8. #8
    Rozinante
    Guest

    Re: "Fictionalized Nonfiction"

    "Based on actual events" is a wopping far cry from "non-fiction."


    Inherent in the phrased "based on" is the concept that the actual events are ONLY the base...and lots more has built on top of it.

  9. #9
    Weed Eater
    Guest

    Re: "Fictionalized Nonfiction"

    Fictionalized Nonfiction is an oxymoron. It's fiction.

    You can write nonfiction using creative writing techniques. Most people prefer it, but you can't write anything that isn't accurate and verifiable and call it nonfiction, even if you tag it as "fictionalized."

    As was said above, use "based on actual events" and label it fiction.

  10. #10
    Anthony Ravenscroft
    Guest

    Re: "Fictionalized Nonfiction"

    Well, Independence Day was "based on real events" -- you know, model the characters from people you observe, model their dialogue, etc.

    I hate that phrase because it's license for exceptionally sloppy thinking disguised as "but it really happened!" hype to get the rubes into the seats (or shelling out for a book).

    I have more fun watching Law & Order: SVU for "the following is not based on real events, so don't bother trying to sue anyone connected with this program," then running Google to figure out the real cases it's clearly based on!

    There's plenty of room to cross-pollinate fact & storytelling -- that's a clearer dichotomy than "fiction" & "nonfiction" anyway. I put a lot of fact in my fiction, & much illustrative tale in my how-to.

    But I'm clearly selling one or the other, not some Candyland between them.

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