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Scott Lax Blog

Moving Between Fiction and Nonfiction

It's common for me to move between writing nonfiction and fiction during the day (or night). What the two forms have in common is that I try to craft sentences lyrically, to make them sound pleasing to the ear, or mind. What's different is that with nonfiction, I make every effort to write the truth to the best of my knowledge.
This necessarily limits nonfiction, because if the author speculates, he or she must make clear that it is opinion, not fact.

With fiction, I believe in what Ernest Hemingway wrote: "All good books have one thing in common - they are truer than if they had really happened."

What that means for me is that in my fiction I try to write not just about human beings, but about human nature. While I may not tell the reader why a character says something, I know why he or she says it. I know the character's history, her background, and her mood when she utters the dialogue.

When Hemingway says, "[novels are] truer than if they had really happened," I think he means that the action of a novel speaks to a deeper truth about life - it's truer because it isn't random, but illuminating. Who turns on the light to illuminate the page? We do - the writers. That's what we strive to do; that’s what we live for. We can’t be afraid to shine a light, even into dark corners. Read More