Posted tagged ‘Dallas Buyers Club’

Based on a True Story

November 26, 2013

TSTI seem to remember reading somewhere that a writer is a person who lies for a living.  When I went searching for such a quote, I found a very entertaining post titled The Art of Telling Lies by Alex Keegan on Writers Write which argues that fiction writers are indeed liars, albeit sometimes in the interest of exposing a higher or more fundamental truth.   It begins with the following quote from science fiction writers, George Scithers & Darrel Schweitzer:

Fiction is lies. There is the Great Lie, the simple fact that the story is a story and not reportage. Fiction writers, therefore are liars — and they have to be good ones.

The thing about fiction, though, is that there is an implied contract with the reader … this is fiction, believe what you want.   If, on the other hand, the book in hand (or these days, in Kindle) is non-fiction, the reader is entitled to expect to read the truth … or at least the author’s perception of it.    Then again, 19th century English historian Thomas Macaulay has said:

The object is not truth but persuasion

In these days of journalistic reporting, that is probably more true than ever.  There is, however, a middle ground where the truth is even fuzzier.  In the world of the film and television, the world of Based on a True Story, there is no contract. (more…)