The Fine Line Between Fiction and Fact
I think it’s always difficult in writing to make the story accurate.
According to this article from BBC News, our nation [the USA] has a top science organization, the Washington Academy of Sciences (WAS), which hands out seals of approval to books that present science correctly. This seems like it would benefit writers, just as much for readers. Though, what if we learn that what we thought was wrong was really right? It’s happened before in history. We did use to believe that the Earth revolved around the Sun. Which items does science say is correct now that we might learn later was wrong?
So how much accuracy should our fictional stories be accounted for? Writers try to make their stories, though they are fictional, rooted in reality as much as possible.This is why research is an important factor for those who don’t have complete knowledge about a certain subject that will influence the story. Though if we use Science Fiction as an example, some things that are covered in those stories that were more fiction than fact caused an exploration of science advancement, such as ten inventions inspired by Science Fiction. It seems like there should be enough to make the idea credible, or make everything consistent to the story for the idea to seem real. Remember sometimes the truth can be stranger than fiction. Though we have to show which ever idea in a way that will advance the plot, so the readers can immerse themselves into the story. If we know our strengths and weaknesses are, we can find away to improve our stories. So if we’re not good with accuracy, then maybe research might help, and at the end of it all making sure the story is a good one. If the story is good, then the readers might not mind a few inaccuracies.
This topic of accuracy usually comes up when I watch TV shows related to crime, for example Bones. The show is centered on science, but… is it all correct? The crime shows usually have consultants to make sure that what ever they cover is accurate. I know the show has a well-known consultant, but someone who studied Criminal Justice mentioned to me once that shows like Bones were filled with inaccuracies. It kind of surprised me for some reason. I had believed what I was watching had accurate science, even though the story was fictional. I know we can’t all be perfect, but we hope for something close to it. I usually try to watch these shows for the story, and hope that it’s accurate. That’s how I treat the stories I read as well. Do we as an audience and as readers choose to focus on the story, and ignore the inaccurancies? It all determines what you know. Like with the character Sherlock, if you know the subject, you will observe more inaccuracies than others. It’s just like those who have read a book that has been adapted to film who notice what others might not. It causes some to shift away from the story because they are focused on something that is disconcerting.
Though if we focus on making every thing plausible, could we be losing the appeal of fiction? I’m sure there are plenty of people who read fiction to experience a world unlike their own. So as long as the story is interesting, that’s where our focus is. Plus if we write only what we know, we place ourselves into a little box (and not one that is bigger on the inside…). We could be closing off the possiblities for our stories (as well as possible inspiration for future science advancement!). When you write a story, focus on what you do best, and then get help on the rest. Remember that fine line between Fiction and Fact is imaginary. You can place it where ever you choose, because you’re the writer. There will always be room for improvement. So I believe that this science organization can be used to help writers improve, but they can’t have the veto power over what is best fiction.