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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Crossroads: The Truth in Fiction

I had a writerly weekend at the Crossroads conference in Macon, Georgia. The organizers say they started the whole thing because writing can be lonely, but it doesn't have to be!

One inspiring theme that arose in a lot of the talks was the truth of fiction. As Sarah Domet said, readers sympathize with fictional characters because they recognize something true in them. Fiction speaks to the heart, and therefore condenses truth in a way bare facts can't.

Another important idea I took away came from Chuck Wendig: Although authors want their books -- their babies -- to cure cancer and end war, they can't do those things, at least not in a direct way, because they're only stories, after all. So don't suffocate your children -- your books --, care less about them and they're be all the better for it. Recently I've been reading a lot about how historical novels have to be so true to history and the known facts, and I can't help but like the idea that I should care a bit less, breathe a bit easier, and remember that it's just a story. I'm not sure how much of that I can get away with overall, but it sounds to me like the only way I will ever finish my first draft of The Seven Noble Knights of Lara.

Finally, one of my favorite speakers was Johanna Ingalls of Akashic Books, who confirmed everything I'd hoped was true about small publishers everywhere: constant enthusiasm, appreciative authors, kindred spirits. I do love being an editor and publisher.

See these other takes on the conference:
Chuck Wendig
Delilah Dawson