I have to admit that I always considered the dichotomy pretty clear-cut. Nonfiction was true. Fiction was made up. Then I saw this quote from Neil Gaiman.
The funny thing is that I’ve probably seen this quote before. After all, Neil Gaiman gets quoted fairly often and I like his work so I pay attention when someone quotes him. So in spite of the fact that I’ve probably seen this before, it didn’t click until yesterday.
Maybe it’s because I’ve been doing all the pre-writing to get ready for NaNoWriMo. I tend to be a pretty seat-of-the-pants writer when it comes to fiction which may well be why, at some point, I always bog down on fiction projects. There just comes a point when some internal contradiction or plot Grand-Canyon makes itself known and I can’t see a way around it and a quit.
This time I’ve been working with my characters and noodling over their relationships with each other. I’ve been making up artifacts, considering the system of government (highly dysfunctional for the have-nots) and today I’m finally outlining the plot.
Maybe it has something to do with all of the pre-writing and the fact that I’m must more familiar with my characters and the story world than ever before. Maybe that’s why. But the funny thing is that I know what the theme is. I never know what the theme is before I start writing. N-E-V-E-R. But this time I do. And, you know what? It is the central truth in the story.
My story is fiction. I’ve made up the people. I’ve made up the world. I’m working on their culture. But the theme — it is one of those Big Truths in life. Fiction may be, as Gaiman briefly put it, a lite. But it is a lie that some how, some way reveals a central truth. Or at least it does if it is well written.