Words from Great Writers: The Truth on Fiction

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As I anticipate grad school and contemplate London, I am doing what I can to self-educate myself on writing and journalism. Am I losing sleep over this? Yes! But I can’t stop myself. I’m an addict; up late at night or early in the morning researching AP style, yahoo style, when I can use the Oxford comma (Call me a nerd, but I LOVE a good Oxford comma!), and what ever relevant information I can get my hands on. I’ve been reading articles in the Huffington Post, New York Times, even Wetpaint. A big part of it is research for a piece I’m working on for a UK publication called Emerging Students, but it’s also my attempt to better understand the journalism world and make myself a better writer.

So once again, I’m borrowing a few more items from the blog BrainPickings.  The site’s founder and curator Maria Popova compiled a list of quotes from some of literature’s most notable writers – sharing their thoughts on what is fiction and what is truth. While my primary interest is journalism, I often daydream about writing a piece of fiction. I’m just waiting for my inspiration.  In the meantime, here’s a little something to get the creative juices flowing on a Sunday!


“Fiction is a lie, and good fiction is the truth inside the lie.” ~ Stephen King in On Writing

“Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.” ~ Mark Twain in Following the Equator

“The problem with fiction, it has to be plausible. That’s not true with non-fiction.” ~ Tom Wolfe in Advice to Writers

“Yes, I have tricks in my pocket, I have things up my sleeve. But I am the opposite of a stage magician. He gives you illusion that has the appearance of truth. I give you truth in the pleasant disguise of illusion.” ~ Tennessee Williams in The Glass Menagerie

“You should never read just for ‘enjoyment.’ Read to make yourself smarter! Less judgmental. More apt to understand your friends’ insane behavior, or better yet, your own. Pick ‘hard books.’ Ones you have to concentrate on while reading. And for god’s sake, don’t let me ever hear you say, ‘I can’t read fiction. I only have time for the truth.’ Fiction is the truth, fool! Ever hear of ‘literature’? That means fiction, too, stupid.” ~ John Walters in Role Models

“We have our Arts so we won’t die of Truth.” ~ Ray Bradbury in Zen in the Art of Writing: Releasing the Creative Genius Within You


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  • candice

    Like the Tom Wolfe quote–I wonder if this is why I am drawn to that funny little genre of creative nonfiction right now….

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