Truth is Stranger Than Fiction

At the convention, Jo Walton said, “Truth isn’t necessarily stranger than fiction, it’s just more fractal.” The strangest things of all happen in the real world. Things that no one would believe if you wrote them in your story. But what she meant here was that true stories, when told aloud, have so much more dimension and backstory than the most complex piece of fiction. For every person who even glancingly reflects upon the tale, there are thousands of things you never hear or see: backstories of their own, a whole life in which they play the starring role. For every event in the story there are a million coincidences that led to it, bouncing merrily off one another. To be a writer is as much to filter out the unnecessary as it is to come up with something.

A sculptor sees the finished piece within the chunk of marble, and merely removes everything that isn’t it. Writing stories is somewhat the same.


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