1. eammae

    eammae New Member

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    Seeking genre advice.

    Discussion in 'By the Genre' started by eammae, Dec 16, 2020.

    Hi! This is my first post here and I'm hoping you can help me out because I'm having a bit of trouble figuring out what to call the piece I'm writing. I've laid out my basic dilemma below:

    Let's say at one point in my (fiction or nonfiction, I can't decide) piece, I talk about Ken Kesey's 1964 bus trip to the World's Fair taken with the Merry Pranksters, and let's say as a way of describing that trip, I say something like "businessmen across America went home for supper with Dayglo-splattered suits..." That didn't actually happen, as in the Merry Pranksters didn't throw paint on people - it's more so a poetic and metaphorical description of what happened. But would that be considered a bad use of embellishment in a creative nonfiction work?

    Is any amount of invention allowed in creative nonfiction? I'm writing an account of events that actually took place, an account rooted in the actual but veers from the actual in descriptions and some dialog when it crosses into a territory of invention. At what point should a story based on real events or an account of real events be called fiction rather than nonfiction so as not to break the trust between writer and reader?

    I should also mention the story I'm working on is more than just an account of historical events. It ultimately unearths a kind of commentary and attempts to expose hidden truths about humanity. It kind of reads like a warning with an ending that I'd call rather poetic in style.
     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2020
  2. montecarlo

    montecarlo Contributor Contributor

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    That's interesting. I would probably consider, very early on, saying something obviously false and outlandish so people know not to take everything literally. Like "A decade after U.S. partisans eliminated the remaining Nazi forces from the Poconos, Ken Kesey embarked on an unforgettable bus tour..."

    idk just brainstorming here.

    -MC
     
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  3. eammae

    eammae New Member

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    @montecarlo Ha, that's interesting, and a pretty clever solution, I must say. I'm going to think about that a bit. Yeah, it's just kind of a weird problem because basically 99% of this piece is rooted in events that actually happened, so it'd feel strange to call it fiction. But there are aspects I'm inventing. I just see those inventions more as poetic devices than outright lies. So I like your idea of finding some way to communicate to the reader to not take everything literally. Thanks so much for your insight.
     
  4. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    If you are adding things that didn't happen, it's no longer nonfiction. You can write a novel (fiction) and include actual events, but you can't add fiction to nonfiction and still call it nonfiction. Nonfiction = TRUE! Writers in the past have gotten in a lot of trouble for making up stuff in a work that is supposed to be nonfiction. Keep that in mind if you want to make something of your writing. But it doesn't seem like there is a real problem here other than your confusion between fiction and nonfiction which is a lot clearer cut than you seem to think.
     
  5. eammae

    eammae New Member

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    Thanks for your insight. Yeah, I understand the line between fiction and nonfiction - I was just majorly overthinking it because, going back to my Kesey example, I'm not writing that line with the intention of saying that's what happened. In other words, I don't want the reader to think businessmen walking down the street were literally covered in paint by the Pranksters. But if I'm calling it nonfiction, readers will take what I'm saying literally. So yeah, thanks for getting me out of that loop.
     
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