It is no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction.
The most important indication of whether to explore a story factually, or through a fictionalized account, will depend entirely on what feels right to you – that is on your hunch – which you will then need to give yourself permission to trust. You might, however, be drawn to exploring a particular subject in both genres. Many creators do, at different times, write both factual and fictional accounts of the same events that happen to fascinate them. They know that the requirements of each genre are not the same and so delve into them differently. There should be no conflict or confusion.
Too often, though, facts are creatively invented, leaving audiences unimpressed when they discover that what was presented to them as fact, was really fanciful and intentionally misleading. Even though non-fiction is open to more rigid scrutiny than fiction, so-called real facts are all too often, simply creative inventions. But non-fiction, because it is presented as fact, needs to contain truths and not only the elements of truth. Fiction, however, allows for far more creative freedom as it gets to the heart of the story without setting out to be true; only to contain elements of truth.
I write both fact and fiction and enjoy both methods of exploration without ever feeling conflicted about the methods I choose for the exposition of a subject. I particularly love writing fiction, though, and certainly enjoy dwelling in my imagined, creative world of fantasy and painting it, because that genre gives me so much leeway to bend, change, stretch, transcend and embellish facts as I create worlds different from and yet similar to our own. There is such a liberating freedom in doing so because fiction is not meant to be true. Facts within fiction, simply give it strength and resonance, even if they are not verifiable.
HAVE YOU EVER HAD A HUNCH? The Importance of Creative Thinking, contains a combination of research and personal experience. THE WORLD OF GLIMPSE is fantasy – imagined wonder through an invented but parallel world to ours – with characters that emanate from identifiable people in real life, with similar personality traits, human foibles and aspirations. Yet both books explore creativity – HAVE YOU EVER HAD A HUNCH? through non-fiction and THE WORLD OF GLIMPSE through fantasy. Each gets to their truths in ways commensurate with the genre.
In THE WORLD OF GLIMPSE, Fred, Justgimious’ pencilpal muse, tells him that his facts are as dryasdust, mundanely matter-of-fact, and sooooo boring. You too, might see yourself as Justgimious sees himself – only as a factulator interested exclusively in established facts, or you might wish to accept Fred’s invitation and explore your imagination as well…
Ellen speaks of Fred the principal muse as having “lead ache”. How clever! if Ellen stuck only to facts, she could never come up with such a description. It is ridiculously funny. But this imaginative whimsical description tells more in two words than one can do in several when writing fact.
Thank you so much, Dede! Differentiating facts from fiction are of course important, but so is imaginative exploration. We can be both “factulators” (as is the case with Justgimious) as well as enjoy exploring imaginative possibilities – something Justgimious eventually gives himself permission to do.