Writers and the truth in writing

“…given what seems like an endless stream of spectacular literary hoaxes and other transgressions over the last 20 or 30 years, it seems appropriate for writers from time to time to stand up and preach the value of a practical truth: There are standards of reliability in fiction and non-fiction, and it helps us all when writers adhere to them, and it hurts us all when they fall to the wayside. …

When you learn that a story or anecdote in a literary work is not true, you begin to doubt everything in that work. And when you learn that a work has been debunked as untrue or unreliable, you begin to doubt the truthfulness of every author and the reliability of every text — an effect that is caustic to any culture.”

Thus, writers ought to follow these simple guidelines:

“1. Any degree of fabrication turns a story from non-fiction into fiction, which must be labeled as such. (A person cannot be a little pregnant, nor a story a little fictional.)

2. The writer, by definition, may distort reality by subtraction (the way a photo is cropped), but is never allowed to distort by adding material to non-fiction that the writer knows did not happen.”

Read More: http://www.poynter.org/how-tos/newsgathering-storytelling/writing-tools/181176/why-nonfiction-writers-should-take-a-vow-of-chastity/

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