Fiction is lies

Fiction is lies; we’re writing about people who never existed and events that never happened when we write fiction, whether its science fiction or fantasy or western mystery stories or so-called literary stories. All those things are essentially untrue. But it has to have a truth at the core of it.

George R. R. Martin

7 thoughts on “Fiction is lies”

  1. A lie is an untruth spoken as if it were truth. Its purpose is to deceive.

    Fiction is an untruth spoken with the full understanding of the audience that it is not true. Its purpose is to entertain.

    Never trust a man who claims these two are the same thing. In so saying, he is not making up fiction – he is just lying.

    • I am also tired of the breezy ‘fiction is lies’ assertion for a similar reason: it reduces my audience to the status of victims of my schemes to “deceive” them.

      I have never thought of my audience as “victims.” I think of them as partners willingly entering into a relationship with me, the purpose of which is enjoyment and (if one of us is lucky) something more substantial: comfort, enlightenment, hope, laughter, wisdom. I’m as likely as they are to be taught those things.

      Implying that I am lying to them, and that they’re complicit in it (or unaware of it) is rude… to *them.* And I think it’s unconscionable to be rude to people who come to you, open-hearted, to be entertained… and who are willing to pay for your groceries for the pleasure.

      • I have never thought of my audience as “victims.”

        Whereas George R. R. Martin’s contempt for his audience, alas, is legendary.

  2. Martin is just using the wrong Lexicon, trying to stop the “Fan” from bothering him about the books he wrote.

    All too many “Fans” cannot distinguish “Fact” from “Fiction”. The best answer I have for them is to read a thousand or more novels and they will soon learn the difference.

    – I find that people who have read thousands of novels have a better grasp of reality than most people.

    To be technical:

    In one Lexicon “Fiction” means a lie. In another Lexicon “Fiction” means a story told for entertainment.

    A simple test for this:

    When someone finishes a novel and calls up their friend, they will say,”I just read this great story. It is so True.”

    They do not say,”I just read this great Lie.” That makes no sense.

    BTW, a “Dictionary” is a collection of Lexicons, that’s why you may have 20 different meanings of the same word. Each different definition is how those various Lexicons define the word for their group.

    I always say:

    The English language is a powerful tool, I just wish more people actually understood it.

  3. This is one of those assertions made by some writers who have no understanding that what differentiate a lie from a fiction is its function.

    Lies are meant to deceive the other person.

    Fictions are stories meant to entertain or illuminate the human condition.

    Replying just because it makes me so cross when writers who should know better utter this statement.

    • Mind you, it does seem to be the case that George R. R. Martin wrote A Song of Ice and Fire with the intent to deceive his audience… by making them think he was ever going to finish it.

Comments are closed.