Friday, January 27, 2012

Quotes and Cookies: Fact vs. Fiction

Three quotes today! Only because they all come from giants, and they are so very similar.

"The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense."

~ Tom Clancy

"Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn't."

~ Mark Twain

"Rule one of reading other people's stories is that whenever you say 'well that's not convincing' the author tells you that's the bit that wasn't made up. This is because real life is under no obligation to be convincing."

~ Neil Gaiman


Hahaha! Great, isn't it? I TOTALLY AGREE. Also: SUCH A HARD LINE TO WALK. Write what you know, right? Yet, when you're reading a book, don't you hate when you come across a scene that feels like it probably happened in the author's life? Or when a character has a certain tic that kind of feels like it must be the authors tic? I guess it all comes down to including something because it feels right for THAT CHARACTER. Using what feels right for THAT STORY. Regardless of how awesome a story it was when it happened in real life.

Have you ever had something that happened in real life that you've wanted to include, but it just didn't seem convincing enough? Pretty funny how much real life can sometimes be unbelievable, isn't it?

While we're laughing about life, let's share a lace cookie! Because that's what you should do when you're laughing about life, right?

Photo credit and recipe: Secret Life of a Chef's Wife

43 comments:

Rebecca Belliston said...

I had heard the Tom Clancy quote before, but not the other. SO TRUE. I've also heard it said this way: the difference between fiction and non-fiction is fiction has to be believable. Gotta love this writing business. :) Thanks for the reminder.

Christa said...

That happens to me all the time...something hilarious happens and I think "I should write this" but then, I actually don't think it would come across as believable bc that stuff only happens in MY LIFE:)

Sarah Pearson said...

A common saying in our house is 'I wouldn't believe that happened if I read it in a book', usually when something paticularly ridiculous or bizarre occurs :-)

Tonja said...

The fun part of being a writer is we get to control the story. :)

Faith E. Hough said...

I think Clancy may have stolen that quote from Mark Twain...but it's still great. :)

Peggy Eddleman said...

Rebecca-- Yep! Gotta love it. :D

Christa-- Hahaha! Sometimes truth really is stranger than fiction. :)

Sarah-- Ooo! Nice! I love it.

Tonja-- Definitely the fun part! And also, sometimes, the frustrating part. :) Definitely worth it, though.

Faith-- I just went and looked it up: "Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn't." I hadn't realized that Mark Twain had said it, too! Thanks for that. It's a great one. I think I might go add it to the others!

Kim said...

I recently watched Bleak House, based on Charles Dickens' serial; and there was a character, the childlike Mr. Skimpole, who was so unbelievable that I kept saying to myself, "This character must have an ulterior motive." But then I found out he was based on someone Dickens actually knew in real life (Leigh Hunt). I couldn't believe it! "Truth is stranger than fiction..." (^_^)

Tasha Seegmiller said...

It's also funny how far people will allow themselves to be sucked into the realm of impossibility only to be thrown out with one little thing. My husband was incredibly annoyed at a monkey that only wore boots - the talking maps, backpacks and monkey were not an issue.

prerna pickett said...

I can't think of anything I've included in my character's personalities or in specific scenes that come from personal experiences. I guess I don't want that coming through in my writing.

Patti said...

I loved that Tom Clancy quote. It's so true. Fiction has rules whereas real life just plays out.

Delia said...

Great quotes! I have a different problem. Every time I write something down from real life, it turns out to be way more boring than I'd first thought. It's depressing. ;)

Jessie Humphries said...

I felt that way about Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. I thought the fact that the MC had a habit of putting an obnoxious streak of pink or blue or whatever color in her hair was a weird choice. At the end of the book I looked up a picture of Stephanie Perkins and she totally had the colored streak in her hair. I am not sure how I feel about that. It's okay to be like your MC, that goes without saying. Some part of you is going to end up in your MC. But you can't make your MC exactly like you! I still loved that book. LOVED it. Okay...rant over.

Angela Cothran said...

Why do readers demand that everything be believable? Boo. Give me crazy any day :)

Eve said...

Oh this is wonderful. I have this moment all the time. I admit to being very clumsy and well honestly I find new and unbelievable ways to injury myself all the time and when I'm explaining it to people they look at me astonished. The truth is I wish I could make something like that up then it wouldn't hurt so bad lol.

Kelley said...

I get those moments a lot. When I think 'no one's gonna believe this!' I have to write it down and include it in a MS!

Then I write it out and I'm like...yup, no one's gonna believe this.

*delete* haha

Connie B. Dowell said...

Oh, I LOVE taking snippets of overheard conversation, but I suppose I ought to be careful. It's tempting because people will say the weirdest things, sometimes too weird!

Donna K. Weaver said...

That is funny. One of my critiquers challenged me on the behavior of one of my characters. Those characteristics were the ones I'd actually based upon a real person. lol

Elodie said...

Hmmm cookies :-)
Great quotes Peggy! and sometimes it´s true when I look back at certain things...I would not believe them if I read them.
However, it´s sometimes depends on the writing. After all if the setting & the mood is right, maybe I would just go "ok that´s a bit stretched but fine :D"
Have a lovely weekend!

Tara Tyler said...

it is so funny how life is usually too absurd to be believable in a book!

have a great wknd!

Carrie Butler said...

*Grins* Well, you know my car stories. They're pretty implausible. :)

Have a great weekend!

Angela Brown said...

It is interesting to think that art is often just a shallow imitation of real life. I've had some moments that were so quirky that I couldn't help expressing, "That couldn't have happened that way if I scripted it.)

Michael Offutt, Tebow Cult Initiate said...

All of those authors are right on the money.

Imogen said...

I love how Truth is stranger than Fiction. It makes living in the real world rather than a story world just a little more bearable!

The Golden Eagle said...

I was just reading a book on writing that brought this issue up. There's always another complication when it comes to fiction! LOL.

. . . and I just noticed the cap filled with cookies in your header. Love it. :)

Emily R. King said...

Tom Clancy's quote always makes me laugh. Thanks, Peggy. And get well soon!

Hannah Hounshell said...

Story of my life. So many times I've had a beta reader tell me that a scene I wrote would never happen in real life. I always give them an injured look and say "Oh come on. That's the only part I didn't make up". The look I get in return is hilarious.

tfwalsh said...

Three great quotes... It made me laugh that the real life things can sometimes don't work in fiction...

K. Marie Criddle said...

Yes! I love Gaiman's quote because it reminds us that we have the obligation to be convincing, no matter how wild and fantastical the worlds we write are...like in HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE, Adams still makes things somehow believable by virtue of the world he'd set up from the beginning, you know?

Awesome quotes and delicious cookies, as always. I LOVE FRIDAYS HERE! :D

Sharon Bayliss said...

I was reading Stephen King's 11/22/63 and he actually used a line like, "If it had happened in a novel, you would say it was unbelievable but..." I was like...can you do that? I guess Stephen King can.

Rebecca Kiel said...

Such great quotes. A favorite between my husband and I when we are discussing writing: You can do anything in writing, so long as you do it well.

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Super quotes!

Those cookies look divine...(Today is my free day, I'd eat them if they were handy.)

Happy Writing, Peggy!

Susan Kane said...

When something crazy happens/ed in my own life, I always thought that no one would believe this one. But I do try to include an element of the event in a chapter or two.
Mark Twain was incredible.

Melissa Ann Goodwin said...

Great quotes! In my book I used a real life situation in a small way, and my editor wanted me to take it out until I told her it came from a real thing! My husband is an artist, and sometimes people will say, clouds don't look like that, or mountains aren't that color - when in fact, that's just how they looked on a certain day!

Stacy S. Jensen said...

I needed those quotes this week. I'm working on an odd real-life scene. Sigh.

Cortney Pearson said...

Great quotes, and so true! I once had an editor at a conference bash the opening scene of my WIP, saying how not-believable it was, and I was like, um, it happened to ME! Lol, she's like, I don't care, cut it. And she was right. Ha ha.

E.D. said...

Love the quotes - they are so true! It is often the real life situation in a story that we are asked to eliminate for being unbelievable... strange, isn't it?

Julianne Donaldson said...

This reminds me of something I read about the Count of Montecristo. When it was first published, it got bad reviews because it was totally unbelievable. But it was in fact, all based in fact--everything really happened the way it was written. Funny world we live in...

By the way, I want to lick my computer screen at the picture of those cookies.

Lynn(e) Schmidt said...

Those are astounding quotes. I really, really like them, because sometimes life doesn't make any sense..at all...

:(

I appreciate people who understand such things though, gives me hope for the future

:)

Janet Johnson said...

I can't even tell you how many times I've seen real life stuff that just wouldn't be believed in a book. Such good fodder gone to waste!

Writer Pat Newcombe said...

It's the suspension of disbelief that has us all saying 'truth is stranger than fiction'. When reading fiction and something feels not quite right it takes us right out of the story and that's what's so offputting. Great post, Peggy - got everyone going...

Paul Tobin said...

I agree with you and the authors you quote, real life is far stranger than the written world things happen that you could never get away with in your writing. Lovely cookies.

Kitty said...

This makes me think of my sister, the 1st grade teacher, who always tells her parents "I promise to only believe half of what the kids say happen at home as long as you only believe half of what they say happens at school." And I'm always telling her she should write a book about some of the hilarious/crazy things that happen in a first grade classroom!! Great quotes, Peggy!

Elana Johnson said...

This is beyond true. It's why real life is stranger than fiction. Great quotes!