The Tyranny of Facts

“Weak ink is better than a strong memory in a court of law. Write everything down.” That tidbit of advice was dished out on a regular basis from a man I worked for many years ago in Alaska. He was a retired Alaska State Trooper. That advice has proven to be invaluable many times over the years, especially when it comes to remembering complicated things like passwords.

One place it has not been helpful, however, is writing stories, true stories, like about my past. Once I commit an event or detail to writing, it loses its dynamic nature and can no longer change itself for the convenience of the story. Fact morphology is one of the greatest writing tools available. Hard facts can really cripple a good story. Photographs have the same negative effect. I'm really glad I don't write true stories for a fishing magazine. Or, maybe they don't require too much truth in the stories in those publications.

Fiction writing, on the other hand, is great fun. There are no rules. The writer is free. I can call something historical fiction and the only part about the story that must be factual is the date. And for that matter, it only has to be in the past. Five minutes ago was the past, by the way.

There is, of course, the intentional misrepresentation of facts in writing. In the news, it's called … news. In non-fiction, it's called lying. On my Meet the Author Page, it's called fun. In fact, my page has four “author bio's” to choose from. One of them is pure fiction bordering on fantasy, the other three are actually true. In the interest of not messing up a good story, I'll leave it to your imagination to determine which is which.