Category Archives: Factual Fiction

What does truth mean, in fiction?

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“The best teacher is a cheap, little Penguin Classic. Read read read.” “The saddest, saddest thing is a human being who has no stories. Because a human being who has no stories is someone who has not been loved, and who has not been able to love. As soon as you engage yourself in being human you start developing stories.”

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“Human truth. Not photographic, realistic, journalistic recorded truth – but the truth we recognize as human beings, how we interact with one another, what are our strengths and our weaknesses, how we interact – and, what is, what is the meaning of our lives.”

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“Stories are equipment for living. Human beings need storytelling in order to make sense out of life, in order to live as well and as civilized as a human being can. And so they will go to the storyteller for meaningful, emotional experiences they cannot get from life. […] People are desperate. Are they getting the stories – comic or tragic – that would help them live through this really ugly period in history? “

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Question: How do you write dialogue?
Richard Price: It’s pretty intuitive. I think dialogue is a knack; either you have it or you don’t. A lot of writers find other elements of writing a lot easier than I do. I have a terrible time writing the King’s English. I couldn’t punctuate a four-word sentence if my life depended on it. I hear people. When I’m writing, I hear people. I do improv. I’ll be out on the street and I’ll pick up the rhythm of it but it’s not like anthropology. It’s not like I’m trying to get the glossary right. It’s just about expressing how somebody’s brain works through what comes out of their mouth. I went to management meetings at Schiller’s and I rode around with cops a lot. I was kind of a fly on the wall but all I’m basically looking for is what’s plausible. Before I start lying, let me lie responsibly. What are the parameters of plausibility and given that, once I know that if I do this, that’s way over the line of possibility, I won’t do it. The other thing is I want to write in such a way as somebody who’s showing me the ropes will read the book or see the movie or whatever it is, and not close the book or walk out of the theater like a third of the way through saying “Well, that was a waste of time.” They’re sort of my audience in an obsessive way. I want them to say “Wow, he really nailed it.” It’s arbitrary. It’s literature. It can be anything you want. It’s not social realism, it’s not photojournalism but I do have that obsessive desire to nail things for what it’s worth.

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“So it is… it’s right dead, smack in the center of what it is to be human, the ability to tell a story.  There is another theory that has it that the narrative art is an evolved adaptation on which we got in the Pliestocine because those who had it had a much greater edge.  They had a much greater survival edge on those that did not have it.  If I can tell you that right over there in that river was where the crocodile ate Uncle George, you do not have to test that in your own life by going over there and getting eaten by the crocodile.  And I can tell you all sorts of other things that are very useful to you for survival in your world if I can tell you a story.  And we know that people learn and assimilate information much more through stories than they do through charts and graphs and statistics.  You might want to back up those things with the math.  But what really hits people is the story because it’s not an intellectual thing and it’s not just a scream.  It’s not pure emotion; it’s a melding of those two things, which is where we exist as human beings.  We’re not thought machines, we’re not screaming machines, we are thought/feeling machines, if we’re machines at all, let’s pretend we’re not.  We are thought/feeling entities.  In fact, some people who have done studies on it say that if you remove the emotion from the person through some accident, they have a lot of trouble making decisions because they try to reason everything out and you actually can’t.  It’s endless.”

No Wonder We Don’t Have A Space Program

Who wants to go into space if all we’re going to discover is an indestructible endoparasitoid extraterrestrial species?

Rant from Amir, a character in development:
“What’s with these detestable cheerful bright colors??!?! ‘Home’ is Sci-Fi isn’t it?? Listen up: I want lasers, dark dangerous evil, ruthless aliens flying around killing idiots, lasers, people freeze-drying, brutal crazy crap popping out of stomachs, viruses, explosions, wickedness, tentacles obsessed with diving down putzes throats, death: death beams, death stars, death dearth, darth vaders, death despair, death disaster. Did I mention lasers?!? Misery entertains me! If it bleeds it leads! Outer space’s lethal man. Give me deathliness. Instantly. Immediately please not now right now. I shouldn’t have to say please because what I want is what science fiction is. Everyone knows our universe was created by malevolent obscene councils of sadistic evil demons flying around in vicious conflict with each other. We’re finished. No one wants Future-is-Great crap. It highly aggravates pisses me off as a member of The Lost Generation – a Zero without a Hero, me – to tell you, this. It hurts. For your information I grew up watching Babylon 5 Battlestar Galactica Star Wars Star Trek Starwhatever SyFy Alien Prometheus Avatar – all of it, the whole thing – I am expert on high-tech corporate body snatching straight up ass butchery. With lasers. Dig it. Get with it. Butchery à la badass. Carnage à la punkass. That’s la programmé. Pull it together: Zombies. Space. Lasers. Pirates. Make it happen. Insane aliens. Aliens angels fear. Aliens god is afraid of. Lasers. Mucho lasers: laser swords, laser guns, laser jails, planet destroying lasers. Everywhere lasers. Be realistic: life sucks. With lasers. On Earth, on Mars. Everywhere. Lasers. Guaranteed. Stop annoying me you offensive optimist.”

Catalyzing Empathy with Factual Fiction: Pinker on the Decline of Violence

“Empathy may be catalyzed by exposure to histories, journalism, memoirs, and realistic fiction, travel, and literacy – which allows us to project ourselves into the lives of other people, who formerly we may have treated as subhuman. And also to realize the accidental contingency of our own station in life – in the sense that “There but for fortune go I.”. It helps us imagine what it is to be someone else. Anything that makes it easier to imagine trading places with someone else, may increase your moral consideration to that other person.”

"Let’s Draw Endangered Species" Pinterespiration

Lets Draw Endangered Species, pre-previz by the best artists in animation collected to inspire your own stories and character designs. If working with animal-based characters consider using your talents to make endangered species known and lovable.  
This Pinterest Gallery compliments an otherwise long-term project: 

Iconic Images of Human Rights Violations

Twitter via @verabee: “Reading about Somalia makes talking about comics seem very very trivial.

A vulture intentionally landed behind this girl; the photographer Kevin Carter scared it off.

No one knows what happened to the girl.

“The sound of soft, high-pitched whimpering near the village of Ayod attracted the photographer Kevin Carter to this emaciated Sudanese toddler. The girl had stopped to rest while struggling to a feeding center, whereupon a vulture had landed nearby. He said that he waited about 20 minutes, hoping the vulture would spread its wings. It didn’t. Carter snapped the haunting photograph and chased the vulture away.

The UN started to distribute corn and women of the village came out of their wooden huts to meet the plane. The parents of the children were busy taking food from the plane so they had left their children only briefly while they collected the food. This was the situation for the girl in the photo taken by Carter. A vulture landed behind the girl. To get the two in focus, Carter approached the scene very slowly so as not to scare the vulture away and took a photo from approximately 10 metres. He took a few more photos and then the vulture flew off.”

A year later Carter’s suicide note read:
“I am depressed … without phone … money for rent … money for child support … money for debts … money!!! … I am haunted by the vivid memories of killings and corpses and anger and pain … of starving or wounded children, of trigger-happy madmen, often police, of killer executioners … I have gone to join Ken [recently deceased colleague Ken Oosterbroek] if I am that lucky.”

Fantastic political blog with iconic images of human rights violations:

Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography (since 1968):