4 responses

  1. Jan Priddy
    May 13, 2019

    Thank you for so eloquently exploring how truth collides in fiction and nonfiction and our lives.


  2. Don Messerschmidt
    May 15, 2019

    Interesting topic.
    There’s a word for it: “faction”, (noun) “A form of literature, film etc., that treats real people or events as if they were fiction; a mix of fact and fiction,” or “a portmanteau of the words fact and fiction.” (Defined in these 3 sources — https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/faction, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-fiction_novel, and http://www.wordnik.com/words/faction.

    The anthropologist Stefanie Lotter defines ‘faction’ as “a neutral term for the literary adaptation … where historical and fictive elements are combined to narratives” and where the aim is “to preserve memories which otherwise escape written history, although they do not claim objectivity.” (Stefanie Lotter, (2004). ‘Rana Reflect: Transitions of a Nepali Elite’, unpublished doctoral dissertation, Department of Anthropology, University of Heidelberg, Germany (p.157-159ff.).


  3. Marie Bailey
    May 15, 2019

    Thank you for this essay. It’s timely as I’ve been discussing with other writer-friends about the thin line between fiction and nonfiction, specifically memoir. This here is why I write fiction: “What I cannot document with evidence, what I cannot prove in a court of law, is what it did to me inside. That is why I write.” It is why so much of my otherwise nonfiction turns into fiction.


  4. Philippa Rees
    May 17, 2019

    I have been confronting the interface between the two in writing a memoir, but taking the liberty of re-constructing the events, particularly conversations, to make vivid for the reader what I more accurately recall, namely auditory memory. For me much more accurate and evocative.

    This comes in for a lot of flack, and the supposition that it represents ’embroidery’. Yet it calls into question whether creative non-fiction (as it’s called) is simply ‘creative’ because a corroborative ‘truth’ is lacking. But is one person’s ‘truth’ less true than something to be assented to by many?

    Surely each of us is a ‘fiction’ to others? The purpose of writing as the author above asserts is to make one person’s truth more corroborated, and therefore non-fiction. Writing memoir makes the transfer from one to the other.

    Unless a critic begins with the world inside the writer’s head they can offer nothing of value. A recent evaluation of my WIP simply said ‘I cannot believe this or that happened…or surely you don’t expect me to believe that a young woman knew nothing of contraception at 19! ( A young woman straight out of boarding school in the 1930s!) The imposition of a judgement about which it is simply means that the gulf between them is artificial, and left and right brain thinking will remain alien to one another.


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