Fiction or Nonfiction: That is the Question

This book reads like a novel.  It must have been fictionalized.  You made up the dialogue, right?

I’ve been hearing that a lot lately in regard to WINGED OBSESSION.  The answer is no: the events as told are absolutely true.  And no: Kojima said things that even I couldn’t have imagined.

WINGED OBSESSION is what is called narrative, or creative, nonfiction.  That doesn’t mean I made up the story.  The book is factually accurate, but purposely written to read like fiction.  Basically, narrative nonfiction is fact-based storytelling.  The writer works to create a compelling narrative that will, hopefully, keep the reader turning the page.  This is done by applying some of the same skills that are used in fiction—setting each scene, presenting fascinating characters and creating a strong narrative persona.

Still, you must have taken some creative license with the events.  How else could you know what the characters in your story are thinking?

That’s easy.  It just requires exhaustive research and that’s something I truly enjoy.  I love digging into actual events.  What’s more fun than trying to figure out what compels people to do what they do?  The great thing about narrative nonfiction is that it doesn’t have to be told as purely objective journalism.  You’re allowed to bring emotion to your characters and create a sense of drama while following a story arc.

I know I’m reading good narrative nonfiction when my attention is riveted and I can’t put the book down.

Here are some of my all-time favorites:

“In Cold Blood” by Truman Capote.  Talk about chilling!  This book still haunts me.  And it was the first of its kind.

“Into Thin Air” by Jon Krakauer.  Not only did this guy climb Mt. Everest, he then wrote a bestseller about it.

“The Orchid Thief” by Susan Orlean.  Need I say more?

“Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” by John Berendt.  Thus began my love affair with Savannah.

“Praying for Sheet Rock” by Melissa Fay Greene.  Okay, I admit it.  I’m fascinated with the South.

“The Perfect Storm” by Sebastian Junger.  A great book.  The author’s not bad looking, either.

The fact that such outrageous, fascinating and shocking events actually happened makes them all the more compelling.  There’s no escaping the old adage: the truth is stranger than fiction.

Narrative nonfiction provides the best of both worlds.

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