I recently finished reading two books. One was a nonfiction book about horses, and I came away with the thought of “Really? What kind of tale is this author spinning?” The fiction title was a mystery and the protagonist was a Realtor. From what little I know about buying and selling real estate, that part of the fiction book was completely based in fact.
It is obvious that the line between fiction and nonfiction can be, and often is, blurred. But as an author who writes both, I sometimes wonder just where that line is. Every author has a unique writing process, but certainly a nonfiction book needs to be steeped in fact. Even if the author knows the subject like the back of her hand, research should be done to confirm lesser known facts. For the reader’s benefit, the ideas need to be presented logically, with a little entertainment, such as a good story that is relevant to the facts, thrown in for good measure.
While the writing process for nonfiction can be methodical, with the author checking off each of the points he or she wants to make, fiction can be a wilder ride. From the invention of characters, scenarios, sometimes even the invention of entire towns, the process can be challenging, but a lot of fun. The inventions, however, need to have enough fact in them that the reader is not taken out of the story in disbelief.
In these ways, nonfiction can have an element of fiction, if the author is telling a story to illustrate a point, and fiction must have enough fact to make the story believable. That can be a thin line that is hard to follow, and I applaud every author who gets it right.
I have written many books, and looking back, I have done better weaving all of this together with some books than with others. I am thrilled to report, however, that I seem to have gotten it right in my newest equestrian mystery, The Fame Equation, which has been selected as one of three finalists in the mystery category for the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Book Awards.
In a few days I will head to Salt Lake City in a day or so to see if this book, the third in the series, has been selected for a gold medal, or a silver one. In either case, I am so honored by this recognition. This is the sixth award for the series, which has also been optioned for film and television. After so many, many long months of mixing horse facts with the lives of my fictional characters, it is a wonderful feeling to know that in the end, the balance was right.
In a final note, I will be at the Midwest Horse Fair in Madison, Wisconsin April 15-17 teaching people about ground driving and riding in balance. Hope to see many of you there!
Lisa Wysocky is an award-winning and bestselling author and horsewoman who educates people about the horse. She also is a registered PATH instructor who consults with therapeutic riding centers across the country about their hoses and horse herds. Find her online at LisaWysocky.com