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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

When is Fiction Better Than Fact?

I had a very intersting moment today when I read a point made in a critique of my story, Treasure Life, which is in publication editing mode right now.  I know the critter meant well with the feedback. What's ironic about this situation is the critter smacked me for needing to do research cuz the story bits didn't seem believable - but uknown to him, the facts I used were from the news article that inspired the story.

I'm sharing below the bit from the story, along with a summary of the critter's statement, and the link to the article. The critter didn't know the story is based on this info, cuz I didn't say that in the story notes on the Critique Circle system. The reason I'm sharing this is not to embarass the unnamed critter, but rather to raise the issue his point brings to light:

Just because it's real facts, doesn't mean IT'S BELIEVABLE. A classic case of fact being weirder than fiction. It's an odd situation as a writer. Not every reader is going to read my little blurb at the front-end pages of the novel, and therefore won't know it's inspired by the real-life find of the golden bird.  Those readers may have the same reaction as the critter did. Hmmmmmmm.

A little setup for the story bit to make sense: My MC is sitting in a cafe, reading a newspaper, absorbing the info in the paragraph below.

Story paragraph: The article accompanying the photo told an amazing tale and sent chills down Seraphina's arms. Bonnie Schubert and her eighty-seven year old mother were diving a few hundred yards off shore in less than twenty feet of water. After blowing away sand on the ocean floor they had uncovered the glinting gold statue. Even with a missing wing and unexplained empty spot in its middle, the bird appraised at almost a million dollars. It was thought to be a ‘pelican of piety’ and had been aboard one of eleven Spanish treasure galleons sunk off the Treasure Coast in 1715 during a hurricane.

Critter's input: (I had to summarize the comment for privacy purposes) The critter questioned the weight of gold, past prices of artifacts and suggested I research that before coming up with my statements. Bonnie and her 87-yr old mother pulling up the find seemed too incredible to him.  He said it was not logical and unbelievable.

I could not disagree with his general statement that 'good, solid facts mixed in with a little fantasy works a lot better' - yes, in some cases, but what about this one?


So, the question is - do I stick with the facts or make it sound more believeable?  In this case, I'm going to stick with the facts, otherwise I can't include the article link because it will then tick readers off that I haven't got my facts straight.  Sometimes this writer stuff makes me need the succor of grapes. :)

For those who care, Treasure Life is slated for publication next month and will be available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.