Wednesday, June 9, 2010

When the line between fact & fiction blurs


Being a writer in constant search for her genre where I write most expressively, I have often been interested in how did best selling authors know which genre would work for them. Did Jeffrey Archer wake up one morning and decide to write fiction? Did JK Rowling pen down a drowsy biography before coming up with her masterpiece?


This question must have haunted them as it haunts me. What is even more interesting though, is that once an author has established himself in a particular genre, is he able to ever break out of it and try a new genre? Take for example Jeffrey Archer himself. What do you want when you are one of the most celebrated fiction writers of all time? He took a risk and wrote ‘Paths of Glory’, mostly based on real events around the life of George Mallory. The risk paid off, the book turned out as much a page turner as the others. This transition hasn’t been easy for all though. Equally famous writer, John Grisham tried his hand at fact in the book ‘The Innocent Man’. Though a compelling story, the book was too leading and having read the first chapter, it was easy to guess where it is headed. Take for example the factual writing of William Dalrymple. Based on real events, he has the flair of weaving a tale so intriguing that it makes history lessons interesting.


The one person in my opinion who manages to blur the lines between fact and fiction is Dan Brown in ‘The Da Vinci Code’. He took facts and then he put in a dollop of his imagination and skilfully stirred the two together in such a way that the reader never knew where fact ended and fiction started.


So the question remains. How does an author find his genre? And having found it, is it wise to experiment outside of it? Do you know any other person whom it worked for? 


Anonymous said...

even Jeffrey archer's autobiographical account of his days in prison in the prison diaries was an interesting read and gave an insight into the goings-on inside prisons and how the system could do with some major changes.

Arveen said...

A wise writer said-fiction also originates in fact.
A fact for one person may be fabrication by the victor for his own glory-whereas it may be distorted info and a lie.
The writer must attract and leave the reader a satisfied person at the end.
So go ahead and feel free to mix fact and fiction in larger interest. ARVEEN

Amit said...

Isn't a story teller just a story teller? Its only when a true story teller tries too hard that they fail to tell a good story?

It isn't surprising that the best of them tell a good story about anything and everything when you're having a normal conversation with them. Yet, some of them are recluse to an extent that you never see that side of their personality.

BUT, point being.. be a story-teller, if you want to be a story-teller!

Harnoor Channi-Tiwary said...

@Anonymous - Archer seems to have mastered the art of trodding the ambiguous line between fact and fiction!

@Arveen - It may be true that fiction may have the seed of its origination in some fact. A character may be built as an amalgamation of various people one met through his lifetime. But then is that to say that pure imagination does not exist??

@Amit - I agree, writing is something you are born with. Either you have a flair or you dont. If you have to try too hard, you are writing what the reader wants to read and not what you write best...

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