The Truth of Fiction

A young Hemingway in Paris.After a recent chain of events, I have come to the realization that we can no longer use the words real and true interchangeably. What is real may indeed have happened, but what is true is only what happens in the way that we remember. Say, perhaps, you spent your morning walking to the corner café at sunrise, watching the same nonchalant faces you see everyday—real enough of an event—but, looking back on it in the evening, the sun seems more of a painting than it was, the faces seem more of a backdrop than they were, and you seem more peaceful than you were back when it happened. This memory may not be as real as the event, but we know it to be true, because you were there, and you are here, and you are the one writing the story.

I daresay a good work of fiction is truer than what nonfiction writers claim as truth. If a reader opens up a nonfiction book and peruses through the documented material, the story is real to him but no truer than a fairytale. Truth must be experienced, and we cannot experience truth in someone else’s reality.

The truth of fiction allows the reader not only to believe that the story has happened to the narrator, but to believe that it is happening to himself as well. Because if the story is not real, why, then, could it not be true for the reader?

Oftentimes, we tend to remember the past with a tainted perspective, so the only affective way to write about this past is through fiction, both for our sake and for the sake of the reader. If we write it as though it were real, people would assume we are either delusional or liars. If we trade in reality for a fictionalized truth, we can, as Hemingway says, “make something that will become a part of the reader’s experience and a part of his memory.”

No longer believe that because a book is fiction it is not true. Remember that Hemingway claimed A Moveable Feast to be a work of fiction, shining the light of truth on the facts of reality.

This book is fiction but there is always a chance that such a work of fiction may throw some light on what has been written as fact.

If you’re the following kind, follow me on Twitter @misscocomae

8 comments

  1. It always amazes me when people deny that the world is shaped by fiction.

  2. Like this piece an awful lot. I’ve always believed there was more truth in fiction than in cold, hard facts. Fiction lends the reader the experience; nonfiction only tells us what happened.

    Very nice blog; glad I’ve found you.

  3. I agree whole-heartedly!

  4. This is so true. Being true and real aren’t the same. We create a new comic in a very unique style that is about kindness and respect. Is it true? Is it real? It is what the reader is making and getting out of it. Thanks for your great thoughts.

  5. A great point.

  6. This is beautiful. You’re such a gifted writer!

  7. Almost every sentence of this is quote worthy. Beautiful explanation of the nature of truth in all of our stories. Thank you.

  8. You opened a door in my mind that I did not even know was there. Off to marinate in this article for awhile. Thanks for the original insight.

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