Is It Real ... Or Is It Fiction?

Please excuse formatting errors below. I've messed with this way too long, and no matter what I've tried, the preview version shows either random extra lines or no lines. So I opted to go with more white space instead of less. Maybe it will be correct when I post.

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I've told you before I'm a news junkie.

Can you imagine what a field day I've had over the past few weeks?

Still keeping up with the mess in the Gulf, of course.

The Russian spy scandal.

The Barefoot Bandit.

Cuba freeing political prisoners.

What is the real deal with the Iranian scientist?

Celebrity gossip.

The World Cup.

I could go on, but I'll spare you my obsession.

The thing is, no matter how much I read, journalists, by the very nature of their profession, can't report the full story. The people story. The emotional story.

They report the facts, but even facts are limited to what the journalist unearths or is given. What he can verify. What questions he asks, what answers he's given. All colored by any slant he knowingly or unknowingly puts on the story.

Behind every person in these stories are many more. Mothers, fathers, spouses, children, siblings, friends, enemies. Think how the actions of people in the news affect the lives of those they know. Of those they love, and who love them. And maybe those they've hurt. That's what makes the real story.

That's why I love novels.

With a novel, I get all the story. The author has created the characters and their stories from nothing. Yet when I read, everything becomes real.

Maybe that's why I read so much news . . . to create the story behind the story.

Even if it's only in my mind.


Joanne said…
I love using research and facts to layer a plot or character. It brings such authenticity to a novel, drawing the reader in with its believable elements. I haven't used news headlines, but what a great idea, depending on the era I'm writing about.
arlee bird said…
I've always enjoyed reading news stories for the story factor I have to imagine. I keep a file of news stories that particularly attract me in case I might want to use one in the future for a story inspiration.

Unfortunately, I find that the newspaper is no longer as good as it used to be. Here in L.A. at least there always seems to be some kind of agenda they are trying to push--it's turning from unbiased reporting to agenda driven propaganda. There are no longer as many off the wall weird stories.

Tossing It Out
Talli Roland said…
I used to be a journalist and it bothered me to no end that I couldn't include people's backstories. That could be why I write novels now!
Carol Kilgore said…
Joanne - I use facts, too, but while I've written about things that are news makers, I've never attempted anything based on a current event because it would be dated too quickly. It would be different using an historical event, however.

Arlee - I read most of my news online. It's instantly available.

Talli - Could be. It would bug me, too.
Anonymous said…
The news is a terrific place to get ideas to develop plots, characters, and events. Sometimes you just can't think up some of the audacious things people try to get away with.

STephen Tremp
I've loved the Russian spy story. It made me giggle. I know I'm not supposed to, but I did. Russian spies? Welcome back to the Cold War - we've missed you. Also, how soon before the Barefoot Bandit's story is made into a movie? Although it is very Catch Me If You Can.
Carol Kilgore said…
Stephen - Isn't that the truth!

Elspeth - I was the first way when I read it - like, What? I'm on the lookout for the Barefoot Bandit movie, too :)
VR Barkowski said…
I'm the same way. I can't read the news without thinking about all the "other" stories and people affected. You'd think I'd be a true crime fan, but that genre is too intense for me. Life really is stranger than fiction.
Yeah, I can only take so much factual news...
Maryann Miller said…
I love to read the news and imagine the story behind the story. That has actually led to a couple of my books. I wanted to know more about that person and that incident and how the person reacted, so I took the news story and played a "what-if" game.
Carol Kilgore said…
VR - I'm the same way. It's the other stories that are so fascinating. I totally agree about true crime.

Alex - I'm laughing :)
Carol Kilgore said…
Maryann - I've never done that. But I have been tempted a few times.
We certainly live in interesting times, no doubt about it. I've often thought about the mothers and fathers of people in the news. I agree, novels can give you the back story we crave. :)
Often when I hear an interesting news story, I wonder how quickly someone will be able to work it into their manuscript. They always makes me wish I wrote faster.
Lydia Kang said…
I love the story behind the story. That's where it all happens, that's where the black and white of the journalistic print becomes shades of gray and really shows life as it is.
Carol Kilgore said…
Kathi - Yes ... interesting times.

Jane - I've read some of those, too.

Lydia - Well said!
Anonymous said…
That was truly beautiful, Carol. I couldn't agree more. Thank you for sharing.
Good point.

I know what you mean about all the extra lines. I'm constantly battling with them myself. I just don't know what the problem is.
Ann Best said…
Yes, you never know for certain the "truth" of the media story.

Novels is where learn about human nature. I've never regretted "majoring" in literature in college. I almost did psychology, but either way you're dealing with people.

Formatting in Blogger: very frustrating sometimes. But it's what we all deal with. So next time, don't worry and save yourself time. The content is what counts, and your list is great.

And thanks for your comment on my last post about needing an objective eye for our writing. Absolutely!!
Ann Best said…
p.s. In my comment above I left out a word in the first sentence, second paragraph. Should be: Novels is where WE learn about human nature.

So, I unwittingly provided an example of the fact that we need an objective eye!!
Carol Kilgore said…
Holly - Let me know if you ever figure out Blogger's line secret.

Ann - Funny how that works, isn't it! Often I post here and when I reread go, "Aarrgghh! why didn't I catch that!"