Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Ten Ways Fiction Compares With Life by Karen Albright Lin

Ten Ways fiction is different than life:

1)  Life starts at the beginning.
     Fiction starts in the middle.

2)  Minimize conflict in life.
     Maximize conflict in fiction.

3)  Life: Want it to be in your control.
     Fiction: Want it to be unpredictable.

4)  Life: Dialogue is often mundane.
     Fiction: Dialogue is clipped, relevant, dynamic.

5)  Life: Truth through facts.
     Fiction: Truth through lies.

6)  Life: What you see is what you get.
     Fiction: What you see is rarely what you get.

7)  Life: Poetry of life measured in the macro.
     Fiction: Poetry of life measured in the micro.

8)  Life: Protect the good guy from the bad.
     Fiction: Kick good guy while he’s down.

9)  Life: Backstory matters when we talk about it.
     Fiction: Backstory only matters when needed.

10)  Life: No do-overs.
       Fiction: Editing allowed.

Ten Ways fiction is the same as life:

1)  Begins with great promise.

2)  We don’t want to be cliché, yet we want to fit in.

3)  Everyday life until something goes wrong.

4)  We want it to be interesting and engaging.

5)  Setting has great influence.

6)  Both are a series of discoveries.

7)  Act on motivations.

8)  Both include major turning points (think teen, menopause, bar mitzvah, baptism).

9)  Resolutions suggest more story.

10)  End is unpredictable yet inevitable.

About the Writer:  Karen is an editor, ghostwriter, pitch coach, speaker and award-winning author of novels, cookbooks, and screenplays. She’s written over a dozen solo and collaborative scripts (with Janet Fogg, Christian Lyons and director Erich Toll); each has garnered international, national and regional recognition: Moondance Film Festival, BlueCat, All She Wrote, Lighthouse Writers, Boulder Asian Film Festival, SouthWest Writers Contest, and PPW Contest. Find out more at www.karenalbrightlin.com.


  1. Karen,
    This was great. Esp. the differences, to see it put in such stark, simple contrast really shines a great light on what I think are some of the main troubles people have with writing realistic, "true" fiction.
    I especially loved
    5) Life: Truth through facts.
    Fiction: Truth through lies.

    and the final comparison -
    10. End is unpredictable yet inevitable.

  2. I agree with Bree, er, thinkbannedthoughts. The contrast/comparison is really fascinating and very well-stated.

    Fine article, cheers.

  3. Fabulous points, Karen, all of them. But menopause as a turning point? OMG! Please say it ain't so. :P


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