How to Create a Faction for a Fiction Story
A faction is a fictional story that incorporates real people and events, blending the terms fact and fiction. Often, the author imagines his way into the past, recreating the thoughts and words of historical individuals. Although faction is highly controversial, its use of real people and circumstances can create intrigue and drama for readers. Combining careful research with the principles of fiction writing, such as plot and character, can help you create a faction piece that ethically tells a fact-based story.
According to historical fiction writer Erika Dreifus in Writing-World.com, fact-based fiction with historical inaccuracies can create not only a breach of trust for readers but break the world you've worked to create. As you research your topic, do as much as you can to enter into the period and understand the people you're writing about. Dreifus suggests delving into historical sections of reference libraries, viewing primary artifacts from the event, or studying old photographs for details you can use to bring your story to life.
Plot contains five key elements: exposition (the reader's introduction to the world of the story), rising action, the climax, falling action and the ultimate resolution. Keeping these elements in mind, you can search your chosen event for a plot structure to build your story around. You can also take advantage of the element of time as part of your plot. For example, Tatiana DeRosnay's "Sarah's Key" surrounds the arrest of Jews in Paris during the Holocaust but also flashes forward to the present, where a journalist is searching for information about a family who was taken.
Coming up with original characters from scratch can be challenging enough, but forming a person who actually existed into your faction's protagonist is its own challenge. In order to be faithful to the real events and the person's legacy, you should use your research to create a believable portrait of the person's appearance, thoughts, actions and other elements of characterization. For example, Paula McLain, author of the bestselling novel "The Paris Wife," studied the writings and personal correspondence of Ernest Hemingway's first wife, Hadley Richardson, in preparation for creating Hadley's first-person narration.
The Gotham Writers Workshop declares that your greatest responsibility is to accurately and ethically portray the characters and events in your story. This is especially true if you're writing about events that occurred in the recent past that still have surviving key players. For example, Dr. Majeed U. Jadwe of Anbar University writes that although Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood" is a hallmark faction work, it is largely based on his own observations, speculations and judgments. Consequently, many citizens of Holcomb, Kansas, the setting of the murder that figures at the plot's center, were unhappy with his portrayal of the events.
- Gotham Writers Workshop: Ask the Writer
- Writing-World: A Research Primer for Historical Fiction Writers
- Anbar University College of Arts: Towards a Rhetoric of Fictionality in the Nonfiction Novel: A Study of Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood"
- Boise State University: Literary Elements: Plot and Conflict
Kori Morgan holds a Bachelor of Arts in professional writing and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and has been crafting online and print educational materials since 2006. She taught creative writing and composition at West Virginia University and the University of Akron and her fiction, poetry and essays have appeared in numerous literary journals.