Eric Wasserman is the author of a collection of short fiction, The Temporary Life. His short story, "Heís No Sandy Koufax," won First Prize in the 13th Annual David Dornstein Creative Writing Contest, and his work has appeared in or is forthcoming in Glimmer Train, Poets & Writers Magazine Online, Michigan Quarterly Review, Vermont Literary Review, and Istanbul Literary Review. Eric recently completed his first novel, Celluloid Strangers, and its opening chapter, "Brothers," won the 2007 Cervená Barva Press Fiction Chapbook Prize. He teaches at The University of Akron and in the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts program in Creative Writing (NEOMFA). Ericís website, blog, and chapbook.
Avoiding the Corner in Researched Fiction
The most common trap writers who incorporate research into their narrative can fall into is that their story is so laden with factual information that a loss of content control takes place and it becomes a story of ideas instead of people expressing those ideas through experience. I know this all too well because I just completed my first novel, and it required a vast amount of research.
Fiction writers can easily write themselves into a corner. For the writer of the researched story it almost inevitably happens when the details cease to be attached to characters, particularly when writing historical fiction, which is what I have been engaged in for a number of years. My manuscript reached over 1,000 pages at one point. Of the 450 pages I cut, the majority were sections where I had fallen in love with my research. I had to accept that while I am fascinated by every aspect of the early days of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), Old Hollywood, and late 1940s anti-Semitism in Los Angeles, readers care more about people affected by history than they care about historical facts.
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