“Tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”
We’re all familiar with this line. It’s a fundamental concept that we, as a society, seem to take for granted. We want the truth.
But, truth is different than fact and facts are harder to come by than other things. The illusion of fact is replacable with truth and thus a core element of writing is revealed.
- The truth is that God is real.
- The fact is this can’t be proven.
That’s not a condemnation or affirmation of faith or religion or atheism or agnostics. This is a matter of definition.
This idea is tied strongly into the idea of perception. The truth of a story doesn’t come from the plot. It comes from the narrative. The narrative comes from the characters. It is often flawed and illogical in brash action (because doing the right thing with the right results would take away a lot of drama).
In writing, I look for the truth. Sometimes, that involves facts. Most of the time, it doesn’t.
In a story, the example of above is this:
- Fact: events/plot.
- Truth: A characters perception of said event.
Facts are not open to interpretation. They are what they are. Truth is open to interpretation.
Here are several questions and statements. Many of them are definitive. Many are so strongly perceived as common wisdom that they could be held as fact when they are not. I’m going to list them and not share my opinion till later, so as not to bias anyone’s perception. Shall we proceed?
- Voldemort is evil.
- Harry Potter is 11 years old in the Philosopher Stone.
- Captain Janeway routinely violates the Prime Directive.
- A Song of Ice and Fire is a fantasy series
- Isaac Asimov’s Daneel Olivaw is sentient
- “Shortening” someone in HG Wells “Citizen of the Galaxy” means cutting off their head
- Jon Snow is DEAD!!!!
- No one other than the Pevensie siblings could rule from Cair Paravel.
- Digimon is better than Pokémon
- The Flash is the Fastest Man Alive
- Truth. Evil is a perception.
- Truth. Mostly because it’s a philosophical and ethical question. is an AI sentient? With no definitive science behind this, I would be compelled to argue that it is not a Fact.
- Fact. Keep this in mind, just because he’s dead doesn’t mean he’s going to stay that way. But, yes, he’s pretty dead at the moment. Not sure why people find this one hard.
- Fact. But arguable enough for Truth.
- Truth. But, it’s basically fact!
- FALSE! Hell, he’s not even the fastest man in his own TV show.
In my opinion, Fact is needed to form the foundation of a world. The rules it plays by. Truth is needed to forward a character and the story. Facts are facts. They don’t have opinions of shape bias. They are completely neutral. Truth can be shaped by Facts.
Fact: I write this blog.
Truth: I enjoy writing this blog.