Sunday, August 29, 2010

One True Book

Do you prefer reading fiction or nonfiction? 

Me? I like to read both. I just finished reading two novels by David Bunn and Jeanette Oke set in first-century Jerusalem (The Centurion's Wife and its sequel The Hidden Flame). I enjoyed both because they snatched me out of this century and plopped me down in the dusty streets of Zion shortly after the crucifixion. Among the pages I met the Centurion whose servant the Savior healed, the Apostle Peter, deacon Stephen, Martha, Mary, Pontius Pilate, Caiaphas, Herod, and many others. I learned so much.

From those who claim to prefer nonfiction I hear, "Why would you waste your time on a story? How can you say you learned a lot, when those are made-up tales, born from writers with vivid imaginations? Give me the truth." 

The coin has two sides.

Children often come up to me after I've told a far-flung tale and say, "Was that story true?"

"There's truth in every one of my stories," I tell them. "It's up to you to find it." 

There is truth in every good work of fiction, including fantasy, sci-fi, and other speculative works. Can you almost predict what a particular character will say or do in a given situation because you've known someone like that? The author probably patterned that character after a real person or a composite of real people. That's truth. Have you read something in a historical novel that sent you searching to see if it was as the author described, only to find out that, indeed, the author was right? That's truth. For science fiction to be believable, the author must know the science reality, the physical laws involved. That's truth.

On the other side of the coin is nonfiction. All truth. Nothing but the facts. Right?

During my nine years with two small newspapers, I was a reporter and a feature writer. There is a difference. When I was in reporter mode, I tried to be objective, telling what I observed and heard without emotion or bias. 

I could be more subjective as a feature writer. I took it as a compliment when readers would say, "Your features read like fiction." We call it creative non-fiction now.

Despite my efforts to be factual, truthful, and honest, there was error in every piece I wrote. Perhaps I didn't get the quotation perfect. Maybe the interviewee was wrong. Possibly my background research was faulty. Suddenly nonfiction becomes fiction.

The nonfiction section of libraries and bookstores is large, taking up more floor space than the fiction stacks. But it's a lie. Actually, it's all fiction.

Except for one true book: the Holy Bible. The Author has perfect memory and perfect integrity. Since He cannot lie, every word is true.


  1. How true. The same yesterday, today, forever.

  2. And we writers of Christian fiction want our stories to ring with the truth of scripture.

  3. LOVE both!!!
    Great post.

    Hope some o' y'all Hoosiers will visit an old Terre Haute girl at when you have time!


  4. Thank you, Linda, Sharon, and Patti. Amen to the immutability of God, the truth of God's Word, and our responsibility as Christian writers to convey that truth.

    Write on!

    Because of Christ,