How to Get Away with Murder (Non-TV Show Edition)

By J.A. (Julie) Kazimer

From the title you’d guess that I was about to tell you how to murder someone. But I’m not. At least not really. This post is about reality in fiction.

No, really dear NSA (who can still read my meta data, or is that my mind thanks to the Patriot Act renewal). I’m not plotting to kill anyone.

I promise *wink, wink*

Anyway…. I recently asked my facebook writer friends, which I truly hope you are one of (if not, why not? I don’t smell that bad and I can be fun. No really. Ask anyone. If you’d like to become one, please do so at www.facebook.com/JulieAKazimer), about using a fictional fact in a story.

More to the point, I wanted to lie about something. Something insignificant but what appeared factual in this story. Basically, I planned on saying Washington DC had the third most surveillance cameras in the world. This is a lie. They’re not even close. In fact, the third most cameras belongs to…drum roll…Chicago. Not surprising with the amount of Bears there. Number two is London, and number one is Beijing in case you ever need to know, which goes back to the title. Damn, I guess I was offering advice on how to avoid a murder charge.

I was surprised by the response of my fellow writers. Many said, hey, it’s fiction so do what you want. This was my thinking at the time. But a far greater number of writers responded with, “WHAT?! ARE YOU CRAZY?” To which I said, “Maybe, but what’s your point?”

And boy did they have a point.

As a reader, I sometimes believe and then tell others ‘facts’ I read in a novel. Now I’m not talking about story ‘facts’ but little bits of research-y (yes, I just made up my own word. It’s my blog post, so there) ones like how everybody on a white, sandy beach gets their own cabaña boy.

Oh, how I long for a cabana boy.

But that’s another post for another day.

So what’s your opinion? Can I lie about the amount of cameras? Or would I be leading my flock (that’s what I’d love for all of you to start calling yourself. No. Really. That would make my year) astray? Where’s the line between fiction and reality in fiction? Or the reverse, how much fiction can you put in non-fiction or memoir?

Oh, and if you murder anyone in Chicago because of my advice, let’s just call that ‘our’ little secret.

J.A. (Julie) Kazimer lives in Denver, CO. Novels include CURSES! A F***ed-Up Fairy Tale, Holy Socks & Dirtier Demons, Dope Sick: A Love Story and FROGGY STYLE as well as the forthcoming book, The Assassin’s Heart. J.A. spent years spilling drinks as a bartender and then stalked people while working as a private investigator. For more about Julie, visit her website.

J.A. (Julie) Kazimer
J.A. (Julie) Kazimer is a writer living in Denver, CO. Books include The Junkie Tales, The Body Dwellers, CURSES! A F***ed-Up Fairy Tale, Holy Socks & Dirtier Demons, Dope. Sick. Love. SHANK, Froggy Style, The Assassin's Heart, The Fairyland Murders & The Lady in Pink - Deadly Ever After Mysteries.

4 thoughts on “How to Get Away with Murder (Non-TV Show Edition)

  1. To me, if the character of the story is making the statement, rather than say, reading it in a newspaper (which of course we all know is absolutely, without a doubt, mostly fabrication), then if they believe it to be true, go for it. If you’re writing it as if it was gospel and it is something the reader should take away as a fact, then maybe not so much. Our characters aren’t infallible, and they lie. So does the news (OK, prevaricate), but that might be another blog.

  2. I also tend to believe some material I read in novels that seems to be factual, although I’m very aware some things might not be true. For instance, I soaked up all the stuff I learned about bees and their hives in “The Bees” by Laline Paull and will probably accept it all as fact until/if I ever read nonfiction expert bee keeper facts that show Paull made it all up.

    So yes, if I read that fact in your book I’d probably think DC had the 3rd most surveillance cameras in the world until I learned otherwise from a reliable source….not the media.

  3. Interesting thought. I have a tendency to believe writers with certain backgrounds. John Grisham for example, was a practicing lawyer. If he tells me some law-related ‘fact’ I’ll believe him because of his experience. Same goes for Patricia Cornwall.

    I think when writing ‘reality’-based fiction it’s a good thing to have your ‘facts’ align with accepted reality. (Which is why I love fantasy – I can make everything up and have it be true in my universe. I AM GOD!!! Ahem.) That being said, if it’s absolutely necessary that DC be ranked third in cities with the most surveillance cameras, then that is true for the reality of the book.

    Yeah I know, I’m barely making sense. Bottom line? The “Fiction” category gives us the leeway, the license, to write what makes us happy. There’s always going to be someone all “but that’s not true!” Those folks will never be satisfied. Ever. If it’s believable within the story, go for it.

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