Like most writers, I always tell the truth when I write. I might make a mistake, but not intentionally. But wait a minute − what does it mean to tell the truth in fiction? Stories are made up, aren’t they?
The question is especially apt in genres like science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Readers will accept virtually any context or hypothesis as a tableau for a story. But beyond that, they demand honesty and consistency.
To start with, there’s the obvious stuff. Telling the truth means getting things like science, history, and geography right. Some people write alternate histories; Australian author Greg Egan even invented his own version of physics in The Clockwork Rocket, but in general, anything quoted as a fact should be accurate.
Truth is about more than verifiable facts, however. It’s about beliefs and values. I never put words in the mouths of my protagonists that wouldn’t come out of my own, and I never profess to believe in something I don’t. I abhor spin, and my opinion is neither for sale nor rent.
What about other forms of writing? We have laws against libel and slander, and we even have laws that require truth in advertising. Just look at a package of cigarettes, or a nutritional label, or even the disclaimers in car and pharmaceutical ads.
There are fact checkers and other self-appointed ombudsman who try to keep us honest. One regular program on ESPN, Pardon the Interruption, even ends each program by listing all the incorrect statements that were made during the show.
The one place where all this is lacking, however, is perhaps, the place where it’s most needed. Have you been watching political ads this year? (That was a rhetorical question. They even show up during the Olympics.) Personally, I’m appalled at the unending distortion and misrepresentations, much less the outright lies.
I believe in free speech in all its manifestations. But we can’t yell “Fire” in a crowded theater or scream “Bomb” in an airport security line. Isn’t there some way we can force politicians to tell the truth and news channels to report news without adding ideological spin? Even better, isn’t there a way we can get the public to demand those things?
Maybe there is. I’ll have to think about it. If I come up with anything I’ll include it in my next post.
Alan Zendell’s Amazon Author Link is : http://www.amazon.com/Alan-Zendell/e/B0053XU04K/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1...