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Today’s blog challenge requests that I discuss the possibility of making my novel into a non-fiction textbook.
Welllllp… my novel series is classified as “urban fantasy genre fiction.” The main character is a magic-wielding FBI agent. While the latter half of her general description is entirely possible, the first part — not so much. She regularly defies the laws of physics.
I could write a non-fiction book about the FBI, and protocols involving high-profile murder investigations.
It would be entirely possible to write a book detailing FBI procedures for psychological evaluations of agents.
I could write a travel journal for the Gig Harbor, Washington area!
Those wouldn’t be my story.
The answer is no. I cannot turn Rising into a non-fiction text, no matter how much I really, really, REALLY want that world to exist.
However… that said… the answer really isn’t so simple.
When is any answer in life that simple?
Have you ever seen the movie Stranger Than Fiction? Without giving too much away, I’ll quote just the very first snippet of description from IMDB: “Everybody knows that your life is a story. But what if a story was your life? Harold Crick is your average IRS agent: monotonous, boring, and repetitive. But one day this all changes when Harold begins to hear an author inside his head narrating his life.”
As writers – as fiction authors – what are we doing, if not creating life on the page? Are we not narrating the journey of people who we connect with on our deepest and most intimate levels?
Like the writer behind Harold Crick’s life, we understand our characters and their motives and motivations better than anyone else possibly can. We create relationships with them through the writing process. We ultimately know their fate, be it good or bad, and we write to that end, allowing them to think, feel and breathe every emotion of their journey. We breathe life into each scene, and we paint a vivid image that can – and should – feel as if it’s been captured from reality through the camera’s eye.
Our characters, their world, their trials, triumphs and failures absolutely must ring as truth if we hope to engage the reader. In order for our readers to become emotionally invested in our work, we must present them with something tangible. Believable. Real.
In that respect, no character, no plot and no story should ever be treated as “a work of fiction” by the author.
Are you, dear fiction writer, working within the construct of a world, story and characters of your own creation?
Are you, dear writer, writing these from your own, personal truth?
If not, I suggest that you are not reaching deep enough.
“If you will practice being fictional for a while, you will understand that fictional characters are sometimes more real than people with bodies and heartbeats.” – Richard Bach
In order to create a full suspension of disbelief in the reader, our created world – be it fantasy, romance, literary, or other – must feel whole, complete and inviting to the reader. We must know when to be detailed, and when to leave completion to the imagination of the readers. We must push and pull our reader through each fantastic element of our storytelling such that she walks beside the characters, feels their fears. Celebrates their victories. Cries at their losses.
When our reader opens to the first page, begins reading, and can’t stop because the characters, plot, and setting are engrossing, captivating and real, we know we’ve done our job as writers.