Truth or Do I Dare Fiction?

Mark Twain
“The only difference between reality and fiction is that fiction needs to be credible.” — Mark Twain

Fiction or non-fiction — which gets closer to the truth?

Non-fiction writing is — by its very nature — the truth. A writer relays the facts as they know them. As long as the writer is careful about facts and honest about feelings, non-fiction must be the truth-iest form of writing. Or is it? Honesty is one of my highest values, but I admit it is super hard to be diligent about upkeeping it.

Fiction helps writers detach emotionally from their work. Therefore, they can look at a story more objectively, see all the angles, all the flaws and all the perfection. It’s like the writer is removed enough to see themselves and the world more wholly, but then they also have the freedom to make stuff up, let their subconscious mind bring ideas to the surface and play with them. There’s something appealing about that … letting go of the analytical mind and playing, being more in the moment. And what is more true than when we are living in the moment? Is truth found on the surface in what we observe, or does it come from a deeper source inside of us?

Yann Martel
“Fiction may not be real, but it’s true; it goes beyond the garland of facts to get to emotional and psychological truths.” — Yann Martel

I’ve noticed and admired other Canadian authors — such as Susan Juby and Richard Wagamese — who have explored both fiction and non-fiction forms, and I wonder how the process of which to write first unfolded for them. I’m definitely interested in fiction writing, but I’m starting with the truth — I mean, non-fiction. My first book is Shine Bright: Live A Supernova Life, to be released in March, 2017. I consider it the Sheila-lite version — a collection of true short stories meant to be inspirational and motivational. I intend to follow it up with a memoir that goes deeper. Two non-fiction books, and then we’ll see where that leads me.

How about you? Writers, what do you like to write? Readers, what do you like to read? Which gets closer to the truth for you? Let me know in the comments.



  1. I have always loved memoirs best because I feel like I’m peeking into real life. However, there’s nothing like a good tale that you never forget. I’ve written very little fiction- a play and a few short stories. My confidence about writing fiction is not particularly strong. Perhaps later in life- I like the thought of ‘playing’ but feel like that’s not a luxury I can indulge in currently for many reasons. Most of them being I feel like I have to do the memoir work first.


    1. I’m with you on that Paula. I’ve often applied a work-first-and-then-play attitude in my life, so maybe that same attitude affects my writing too. Thanks for sharing.


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