Eric’s Writing Blog

The writing blog of Eric Rosenfield

Archive for September 2009

Research, Current Events and Fiction

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After writing a few stories set in places like Afghanistan and Somalia, I’m really starting to realize why writers make up alternate universes or go far into the future or make up fictional countries in order to comment on current events. It’s one thing if you’re Tom Bissell, who lived in Uzbekistan for some time, to write about conditions in Uzbekistan. But for me to try and convincingly make up what things are like on the ground in those places, based on some news articles or television programs or whatever, well, I could probably fool other people who know as much about it as I did going in, but people who really know about, soldiers or journalists or natives or whoever, I just feel like they would glance over my stories and call me on my bullshit.

It’s a question though: how much responsibility does a writer have to get a setting “right” or is it more important that they convincingly tell their story? Pulp writer Lester Dent had tricks for setting stories in places he’d never been, little snippits of detail he’d throw in here and there, but in some cases even I can tell he’s talking out his ass. Do I care? Do you care if you read a story by a writer and you notice that they get some detail wrong, even if the rest of the story is good?

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September 28, 2009 at 4:15 pm

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HBO and Genre

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It occurs to me that HBO’s most well-regarded shows, which are considered by many to be the pinnacle of the television medium, all tweak genre in some one; none of them are what you would call straight “literary fiction” or “mainstream fiction”.

The Wire, for instance, perhaps the most well-regarded of the bunch, is so much a part of the Crime Fiction world that it actually got Crime Fiction novelists to write for it. Deadwood is a Western, True Blood is about vampires, The Sopranos is gangsters. Even new stuff like Bored to Death, created by literary fiction writer Jonathan Ames, is all about tweaking the Detective genre.

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September 22, 2009 at 11:05 am

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The myth of rewriting

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September 9, 2009 at 3:19 am

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