Philosophy By Christy

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The Fine Line Between Fiction and Fact

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April 2017

April Session


There are many struggles in life, but for me, sometimes it's finding the words to place onto the page. Writing is away to create new worlds, explore, and experience so many different emotions. Only by reading do we learn not only to write but certain stories will change us through out our lives.

*Image above: The Pleiades
*Header Image found from The Matrix of Gallifrey FB Page

article image I think it’s always difficult in writing to make the story accurate.

According to this article from BBC News, our nation [the USA] has a top science organization, the Washington Academy of Sciences (WAS), which hands out seals of approval to books that present science correctly. This seems like it would benefit writers, just as much for readers. Though, what if we learn that what we thought was wrong was really right? It’s happened before in history. We did use to believe that the Earth revolved around the Sun. Which items does science say is correct now that we might learn later was wrong?

So how much accuracy should our fictional stories be accounted for?  Writers try to make their stories, though they are fictional, rooted in reality as much as possible.This is why research is an important factor for those who don’t have complete knowledge about a certain subject that will influence the story. Though if we use Science Fiction as an example, some things that are covered in those stories that were more fiction than fact caused an exploration of science advancement, such as ten inventions inspired by Science Fiction. It seems like there should be enough to make the idea credible, or make everything consistent to the story for the idea to seem real. Remember sometimes the truth can be stranger than fiction. Though we have to show which ever idea in a way that will advance the plot, so the readers can immerse themselves into the story. If we know our strengths and weaknesses are, we can find away to improve our stories. So if we’re not good with accuracy, then maybe research might help, and at the end of it all making sure the story is a good one. If the story is good, then the readers might not mind a few inaccuracies.

This topic of accuracy usually comes up when I watch TV shows related to crime, for example Bones. The show is centered on science, but… is it all correct? The crime shows usually have consultants to make sure that what ever they cover is accurate. I know the show has a well-known consultant, but someone who studied Criminal Justice mentioned to me once that shows like Bones were filled with inaccuracies. It kind of surprised me for some reason. I had believed what I was watching had accurate science, even though the story was fictional. I know we can’t all be perfect, but we hope for something close to it. I usually try to watch these shows for the story, and hope that it’s accurate. That’s how I treat the stories I read as well. Do we as an audience and as readers choose to focus on the story, and ignore the inaccurancies? It all determines what you know. Like with the character Sherlock, if you know the subject, you will observe more inaccuracies than others. It’s just like those who have read a book that has been adapted to film who notice what others might not. It causes some to shift away from the story because they are focused on something that is disconcerting.

Though if we focus on making every thing plausible, could we be losing the appeal of fiction? I’m sure there are plenty of people who read fiction to experience a world unlike their own. So as long as the story is interesting, that’s where our focus is. Plus if we write only what we know, we place ourselves into a little box (and not one that is bigger on the inside…). We could be closing off the possiblities for our stories (as well as possible inspiration for future science advancement!). When you write a story, focus on what you do best, and then get help on the rest. Remember that fine line between Fiction and Fact is imaginary. You can place it where ever you choose, because you’re the writer. There will always be room for improvement. So I believe that this science organization can be used to help writers improve, but they can’t have the veto power over what is best fiction.

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9 Comments

  1. rockyfort says:

    Reblogged this on Ice Cream Castles in the Air and commented:
    This blog raises some interesting questions. As a writer, especially a fiction writer, how far do you blur the lines between science fact and fiction? Do you allow inaccuracies if it will help move your story along. Feel free to comment here.

  2. I’ve been hesitant to start one idea, because it involves crime investigation. It’s also has a hint of the paranormal, and is basically a love story. But having read this, I might be inching closer to just writing that sucker, and letting the investigative chips fall where they may. 🙂

    • Christina says:

      You should write it, Anna. You never know what might come from writing the story. Even if you don’t publish it, it will be a great learning experience. Don’t let the inner-editor get in the way, until after you write the story.

      • Thank you for this. I’ve never had a problem with an inner editor while writing, but you hit the nail on the head. The invisible inner editor is just as insidious.

      • Christina says:

        I like to imagine my invisible inner-editor being really excited about editing, and like a child I have to calm it down. The invisible inner-critic is the one that is much more difficult to ignore but it’s really important to keep writing. Other wise you’ll just stop with a good idea, but not even really realize it till later. I recommend checking out this post (that I found) about these invisble inner-editors and inner-critics, how they can be controled and possibly ignored, at least for a little while. http://www.malindalo.com/2010/07/the-inner-editor-vs-the-inner-critic-and-how-to-ignore-them/

      • What a great article; I had never heard of Malinda Lo.

        Nor had I heard of the inner critic, and that’s truly what holds me back about this story. Well, I’m also squeamish. But you’ve provided a real boost here. Now to start pondering a more detailed plot; thank you so much for this shot of encouragement! 🙂

      • Christina says:

        I’ve never heard of Malinda Lo either. I had heard about both, the inner editor and inner critic, before I found that article so I had an idea. Though Malinda described both well that why I thought I would share it with you. You’re welcome! I’m so glad that I’ve been able to help you. 🙂

  3. […] I had a lot to ponder, thanks to Philosophy By Christy.  Her post about the fine line between fact and fiction prompted my comment about an idea that I’ve sort of shoved to the background (but […]

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