BRIDGET WHELAN writer

August is archive month. Posts from the past

The difference between fiction and non fiction

Over on  The View Outside Vikki’s written about a recent research session at the Faber Academy where novelist and Guardian writer Susie Steiner gave a pretty good definition of the difference between fiction and non fiction.

Fiction needs to be believable, it needs to make sense. Sometimes real facts don’t.

The American writer Janet Malcolm maintains that the writer of fiction is in a privileged position because they own the house and can do what they like.  The non fiction writer, however, is a tenant, under contract to the reader…

The difference between fiction and non fiction

If you make things up you own the house and you can do what you like,but the non fiction writer is only a tenant

Come across any other good definitions?

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9 comments on “The difference between fiction and non fiction

  1. ann perrin
    November 14, 2012

    Leaves me with the thought how faithful to the facts does a memoir have to be?
    Love the picy!

    • bridget whelan
      November 14, 2012

      Good question about writing a memoir. Here’s the guidance on the Fish Short memoir competition 2012/13
      “Everyone must have a memoir. Not an autobiography. Too many rules. Too much adherence to fact, to structure, to convention. A memoir gives licence – to interpret, to create, to fabricate, to make sense of a life, or part of that life.”
      ww.fishpublishing.com/memoir-competition-contest.php

      Not everyone would agree – I heard about Janet Malcom in a lecture by Ian Jack (former editor of The Independent/Granta etc). For him, veracity was of primary importance – he believed in that contract with the reader but for may others the boundary is blurred.

      • bridget whelan
        November 14, 2012

        By the way, the picture is Sienna, last April….

  2. susioddball
    November 14, 2012

    Fiction means that the doctor has certified you creative non fiction (if you get the facts wrong) means that the doctor has certified you as delusional

    • bridget whelan
      November 14, 2012

      Ok, just processing that…but what if you get the facts wrong because of your interpretation or knowledge (it was the truth as you saw it): as opposed to getting the facts wrong because you chose to tell it that way….

  3. susioddball
    November 14, 2012

    Fiction means that the doctors have certified you as creative Non fiction (when you get the facts wrong) means that you are certified as delusional

  4. Vikki (The View Outside)
    November 15, 2012

    I love Janet Malcolm’s definition 🙂

    Xx

  5. A.K.Andrew @artyyah
    November 16, 2012

    Love this analogy Bridget – and the photo!:)

  6. Pingback: I’m OK WiTH With It | A Writer's Convenient Truth

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This entry was posted on November 14, 2012 by in Quotes, Views and tagged , , .
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