Fiction: "more true than real life"

The other day, Barbara Samuel at Writer Unboxed wrote a very eloquent post about “The Intersection of Truth and Fiction.”

Every story a writer composes somehow emerges from the writer. But where to draw the line between truth and fiction might be hard to distinguish. I am not a character. The character is herself. Some of my experiences lend verisimilitude, perhaps, but mostly, I’m cobbling together bits of this and pieces of that, gathering anything and everything that might be helpful to create a sense of a whole world for a reader.

I find this especially relevant as I freak out calmly prepare my synopsis and finalize the manuscript of Twenty-Somewhere for submission to JJ and St. Martin’s Press.

Anyone who knows me knows that 20SW draws from my personal experiences, and that a few of the characters are inspired by people I know in real life (with their permission). But sometimes I get frustrated because people think 20SW is real, and it’s not. (If it were, I’d just blog about it!) I put a lot of thought and time into crafting these young women, their world, and their stories. And then I write thousands of words to support that. Hence: fiction.

And I write fiction because…

The most pleasurable part of writing for me is that weaving of truth and lies to create something that is more true than real life.

Now, I’m not saying 20SW is Serious Life Changing Literature, but I do think 20SW addresses real issues that twenty-somethings face, hopefully in a fun but still valuable way.


What’s real, and what’s not? Only the writer ever really knows for sure. And even then, I’m not sure we always know.

Like this:



My 2009 Turkey Day list


Take a trip (in photos)


  1. Oh, come on. You ended the post without really elaborating your point. That’s a big deal; “fiction is more true than real life”. Go on!

    And godspeed, regarding your synopsis, and etc.
    .-= • Recent post by Eric: I Want You =-.

  2. This is a topic that John Irving’s main (novelist) character discusses at some length in Last Night in Twisted River. Oh, you’re going to love Irving once you manage to get through the first 100-200 pages. :)

    Good luck getting your submission ready! And congrats for sticking with that series to the point that it could be considered for something like this. You already have a lot to be proud of. :)
    .-= • Recent post by Sonja: Thoughts from sesshin =-.

  3. Eric-
    Sorry, I’m not as good at these blog-essays as you are. Plus Wii bowling with Andy’s family was really interfering with my thought process. :P

    “once you manage to get through the first 100-200 pages” – LOL! But no, I believe you. And I’ll be happy to prove you right as soon as I get the chance.

    Thank you. :)

  4. Trisha


  5. Jon

    You don’t know how awkward it is to realize your friend is writing about you, though! In tenth grade, I think, I had to play a fictionalized version of myself for a friend’s new play. Now that was awkward.

    I eventually dropped out for one reason or another; it was just too weird to read lines created by someone else that was supposed to be authentically me.
    .-= • Recent post by Jon: Happy Thanksgiving =-.

  6. Lois Ann Yamanaka at a conference for teen readers was asked that question while I was in the audience. She drew a dot on the board. And said, “that is a kernal of corn.” soemtimes the truth is just a small kernal of the story. Then she drew the ear of corn, with husk and then stalk and then leaves. she said “sometimes the truth is the whole ear and sometimes it is nearly the whole stalk. But we, the writer, never tells.”

    Or a favorite quote from Readling Lolita in Tehran, “What we search for in fiction is not so much reality, as the epiphany of truth.”
    .-= • Recent post by Pseudo: Holiday Letters and Snarky Advice =-.

  7. Jon-
    Lol that does sound awkward. Well, like I said, I got permission from the people in question, and I send them the episodes privately via email. They always respond positively, and in fact throw out ideas for me to use for the characters sometimes! I think they can draw the line between reality and fiction pretty easily. Lucky me. :)

    I love that! (And the quote from RLiT, which I need to read…) I think of the truth as being a kernel too. And I think most fiction that doesn’t have some kernel of truth — whether situational truth, or emotional truth, or something — tends not to work.

  8. Hey young one – I featured you this week in my side bar. Could not find your profile photo to steal, so used the one from your bio page. Hope it’s OK.
    .-= • Recent post by Pseudo: Holiday Letters and Snarky Advice =-.

  9. Aw thanks! And LOL to the caption! (I’m 24 as of 9 days ago!)

  10. Aww, sorry, I didn’t know it was so frustrating/disturbing to you that we think it’s real life. I kind of think of it as fun… imagining all these “fake” relationship dramas surrounding my friends… =)

  11. It’s not frustrating to me if you don’t really believe it. I just (a) want credit for my hard work! lol, and (b) don’t want any awkwardness to arise from people’s misconceptions. If you know it’s not real, then it’s all gravy if you just want to tease me/us about it. :)

  12. I agree. My characters are such a hodge podge of people I know, I’m not sure I could tell you who’s who, even if I wanted to.

    Then again, I’m not sure I would own up to any of the wacko traits or crazy mishaps my characters get themselves into, reguardless. LOL. That would be way too embarrassing.

    Good Luck on your submission!
    .-= • Recent post by Kimberly Franklin: Christmas =-.

  13. Lol exactly! Thanks, Kimberly!

  14. Happy belated birthday ‘ -) November birthdays are the best. Are you a Scorpio?
    .-= • Recent post by Pseudo: Holiday Letters and Snarky Advice =-.

  15. Thanks! Yep, I’m right on the cusp: last day of Scorpio, which means I may have some Sagittarius tendencies?

  16. You said it sister, hmm, I thought I had posted something here before but I guess I didn’t.

  17. Les

    I’m a Sagittarius in all its …dubious glory haha.
    Good luck on getting everything finalized, I’ll be rooting for you in the corner!
    .-= • Recent post by Les: Ugh, Monday =-.

  18. Love those shoes on your home page. Where can I get a pair? : )

  19. LOL well that pair was just sitting on a stone wall on Trinity College’s campus, so if you want to check, they might still be there! (Trinity College in Dublin, that is.)

  20. LOL. Well…I think I might pass on those. Love the picture, though!

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