Writers … We love you. But you drive us nuts when you make simple mistakes. It makes editors work harder, and it makes you work harder because you have to rewrite stuff that is easy enough to get right in the first place. Join Scott Morgan on Thursday, July 19, at 9 p.m. EDT for my free 30-minute webinar on some things you can do to make the writing process smoother and more rewarding for all.
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Yeah, let’s go with prickly. It’s a nicer word than “arrogant” and I’m not really trying to start trouble here. I just want to stand by nonfiction’s side and say that I sanction a peaceful coexistence between fiction and nonfiction. I like them both and they both have a right to live.
What we’ve had for some time now is tolerance between the two camps. Poop on tolerance. Tolerance is an ugly word. Tolerance means “You suck, but since I can’t do anything about you, so just don’t bother me.” What we need is acceptance.
As wars go, this one between fiction and nonfiction is delightfully non-destructive. The worst it gets is just really, really annoying. Fiction writers bust out the Rudyard Kipling (“Fiction is truth’s older sister”) to remind us that news stories, biographies, scientific fact books, and histories are all just works of opinion, really, and, therefore, are not the actual truth. Fiction, on the other hand, is pure. There are no lies, just representations of the writer’s soul.
On the other hand, nonfiction writers condescend fiction as make-believe. Not a word of it actually happened, they say — it even says so in the disclaimer that no part of the work is real. Nonfiction, therefore, is important. Instructive. Real.
Okay, everybody. . . take a breath and relax. Everything’s all right.
The disharmony, at least to me, seems to be over the words “truth” and “fact.” Truth changes, fact doesn’t. Truth is a product of its time and of those who perceive it. Who’s the nicest guy in the world? Ask ten people and you’ll get ten different answers, all of which will be the truth to the person answering. No one is lying, they all just see things differently. What’s two plus two? Ask everyone at any point in history, and they will all say four. That’s a fact.
If nonfiction, then, were to be judged on its adherence to inarguable facts, then the only true nonfiction would be mathematics books (not science books, because science changes all the time). And that would be really boring reading. Even Einstein liked detective stories.
I make no greater point this week than this — it’s all good. Fiction has its value and nonfiction has its value. Both have their strengths and their flaws. So let’s, everybody, stop fighting over which is the more valid. It doesn’t matter.
And that’s the truth.
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So what better place to look for inspiration for your characters than among the dearly departed?
Character Development from the Inside Out is my book, due November, 2011, from Open Door Publications. It is the user’s manual to developing great characters for your fiction.
Check in at my website, www.write-hook.com, for exclusive updates and excerpts, and for news on how to pre-order your copy.
In an effort to spread the love — not to mention the marketing possibilities — for writers, I’m starting a new weekly freebie. Every Wednesday, I’ll highlight three fiction markets that are always looking for fiction.
If you have any suggestions, know of a good publication to highlight, or want to promote your own journal, drop me a line and let me know. As always, you are welcome to submit to my own online publication, WriteHook Magazine anytime. In fact, please do — I’m still looking for submissions for my first edition.
The 3 for the Week of July 6, 2011:
- The First Line: A quarterly online and print publication that actually pays money, The First Line provides the opening line and you run with it from there. The next two issues begin with the following first lines: “Edwin spotted them the moment he stepped off the train,” due August 1, 2011; and “It had been a long year,” due November 1, 2011.
- Red Fez Publications: A monthly online publication that’s as open to anything as you will ever find. They don’t like snail mail and they are serious about their guidelines, but if you don’t know where your story fits, try it here.
- Jersey Devil Press: A monthly online magazine you don’t have to live in New Jersey to love, but it helps if you agree that Jersey Shore is the harbinger of the end of civilization as we know it.
I’m looking for works of fiction and poetry that come to 3,000 words or less. Subject and style is up to you, I don’t put limits on anyone’s creativity. So long as there’s no graphic sex or violence, no high school poetry about vampires or “Twilight,” and no political or religious diatribes, it’s open season.
Get the full details at www.write-hook.com
Save the Date: Join me for my upcoming writing workshop on Saturday, October 15, 2011, at Classics Books in Trenton, New Jersey. Full details to be announced soon — but at least now you know you have something to do that day, right?