Part One of this “Faces of Freelance” series dealt with fiction options, Part Two with non-fiction. Somewhere between the clearly-defined categories of “truth” (non-fiction) and invention (fiction) lies the not-so-clearly defined creative non-fiction. (No pun intended.)
The lines between fiction and non-fiction were further blurred at the beginning of this century. Dan Brown gave us the novel The Da Vinci Code, which, according to the Preface, was completely true.* Religious groups around the world were in an uproar over the spurious claims about Mary Magdalene. Nice marketing technique, Dan. Personally, I enjoyed the book as a well-plotted action adventure. But then, I ignored the preface and read it as pure fiction.
About the same time, A Million Little Pieces entered the fray. (Pun intended.) James Frey offered an explicit, confessional-type memoir of his victory over addiction. It was later revealed it was mostly made up and sensationalized to enhance sales. Disclaimer: I haven’t read this one. Sounded a bit too intense for me. I felt sorry for his mother, who basked in his brief rise to fame. “Good news, bad news, Mrs. Frey. Your son was not as bad as he originally claimed. That is also the bad news.”
Memoirs, Biography, Autobiography logically fall within this blurry category. Although an author purports to present a true account, based on her own or someone else’s life, a certain amount of fictionalization is required. Details must be selected based on relevance and interest. What reader is going to be compelled to read the mundane details of waking up, getting dressed, eating breakfast, and going off to school or work?
Episodes must be constructed along a story line in order to make sense of an individual’s life. The human mind responds to story, so writers comply. This relatively new genre provides the potential for an entirely new pursuit for authors. If you haven’t found your voice in fiction or non-fiction, this may be the avenue for your writing adventures.
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*In his preface to The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown writes “All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents, and secret rituals in this novel are accurate.”
For commentary on this statement, see “Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code is Fiction not Fact: A list to remind you that The Da Vinci Code is a work of fiction,” by Marion Boddy-Evans, in About.com. http://painting.about.com/od/famouspainters/a/DaVinciCode.htm