Story and History
A story is literally a narrative (an account of events or experiences, whether true or fictitious. History comes from the same root and is a true story, narrative, or accounting of past events. Well, at least presumed to be true. I have had two people give me an accounting of the same past event, and one “history” or the other could not possibly be a true history.
Of course, two people can view an event from two different vantage points, and thus see the event from two different perspectives, which simply gives a broader historical understanding of the event. On the other hand, when two people are describing the exact same point in the event and describe it differently both cannot be describing it accurately. For instance, in a fairly recent event a policeman shot a man. There were at least two witnesses. One witness said the man was running from the policeman and the other said he was charging toward the policeman. One or the other is an inaccurate narrative.
True Narrative or False Narrative
In a sense, the same can be true of fiction. A fictional story can be a true narrative or a false narrative. Or to put it another way, the story can be true to life or give a distorted fictionalized view of reality. If everything is rosy and always turns out for the better, and there is never sorrow or tragedy there is a distortion of reality.
In the recent Rogue One Star Wars movie the rebels succeed in getting the necessary information that will eventually lead to the destruction of the death star, but as you come to the end of the movie heroine and heroes die. The ending is both happy and sad—a true narrative as opposed to a distorted narrative.
So are gloriously happy endings a distortion? No. Life does have its gloriously happy endings. But getting to that happy ending is not all roses. Along the way there will be struggle, sorrow, and hardships that lead to growth, all of which are necessary to a gloriously happy ending. As someone has said, “The greater the struggle the greater the glory.”
The Goal of a Fictional Story Is Truth
My stories are fiction, and my goal is always that each story will be a true narrative. A number of them are fantasy with fantastic characters, creatures, and realms, but the goal is that the interpersonal and personal narrative will be grounded in truth—truth related to man’s fallen condition, his struggles, and truth related hope of redemption. You can explore them at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.
A recent Facebook post caught my attention: “In the end truth will always outlive lies.” That is true in fiction as well as in life. “True narrative” fiction lasts. That kind of fiction is what makes a great writer great and great stories become classic stories. In that regard, here is a link to one person’s view of The Ten Greatest Works of Christian Fiction. My favorite classic authors are George MacDonald, C.S. Lewis and Charles Dickens. And yes, Dickens was a Christian author. Read the original version of A Christmas Carol, and you will find the gospel underlying his true fictional narrative.
The Best Line of All
The best line of all relative to truth comes from Jesus’ prayer to his Father in John 17 (verse 17), where he prayed “Use the truth to make them holy. Your words are truth.” (God’s Word Translation) God’s Word is our measure of truth. I have to ask myself, “Does my writing measure up with God’s revealed truth?”
What are your favorite classics and or classic authors? What insights do you have relative to a fictional story being a true narrative or a false narrative? Share your thoughts with me.