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Writing Forum | WritersDigest.com • How to Publish "Based on a True Story" Fiction? : Tips and Advice • Writing Forum | WritersDigest.com
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How to Publish "Based on a True Story" Fiction?

PostPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2016 7:28 am
by Spinners
This is a two-part question: (A) The literary world is divided into fiction and non-fiction as a given. Yet, what about those stories, mostly movies, that boast "based on a true story" or "inspired by a true story"? I know, saying "fiction novel" is redundant. But, why can't a novel have a thread of truth when it is not: a memoir, a biography, nor documentary? And, since we know these stories exist, what label are these stories given when in book form?

(B) Likewise, literary agents divide the literary world along the very same battle lines: fiction or non-fiction. So, how do you find an agent for a story with a thread of truth? Let me say that I have tested the waters with a sample of agents representing my niche (in fiction). However, they do not seem receptive to the adage "truth is stranger than fiction". Any suggestions for seeking out those agents that may be more receptive to this concept?

Re: How to Publish "Based on a True Story" Fiction?

PostPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2016 11:04 pm
by u.v.ray
Well the term "fiction novel" is redundant. But Truman Capote pioneered the idea of what is now known as the "non-fiction novel" with his In Cold Blood, published in 1966. It's a story told with journalistic style reportage.

Everything I have ever written has been part autobiographical, a genre I've often seen called "confessional fiction." Which is a term I hate, actually. I just call it fiction. And when readers ask - and they do all time - I tell them -- 80%. 80% autobiographical.

Much of the Southern Gothic writing is also written with a thread of truth running through it. But this is a very specific prose that writers like Harry Crews have helped make forge a whole genre of its own.

Re: How to Publish "Based on a True Story" Fiction?

PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2016 12:23 pm
by shadowwalker

Re: How to Publish "Based on a True Story" Fiction?

PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2016 7:49 pm
by Carly Berg
I'd guess most fiction probably has all kinds of threads from reality running through it. After all, we get our ideas from the world around us. I think the trick is just to be careful not to call out any individual in a way they might recognize, not like, and decide to sue you over. Even if you win, it can bankrupt you. If you're worried about that at any point, just switch up the details a little bit. Good luck with it.

Re: How to Publish "Based on a True Story" Fiction?

PostPosted: Thu Jun 30, 2016 4:51 am
by cynicalwanderer
Or you could just do what the Coen brothers did with Fargo, and make the claim that it's a true story when in fact it's entirely made up. :)