The Millions

The Truth Is a Trail of Breadcrumbs: Research in Fiction

Ernest Hemingway famously said, “All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened.” For readers to embrace the inherent truth in fiction, the work must feel authentic. It’s why writers are always in search of infinitesimal crumbs of truth to weave into their fictional prose. It’s why research and nonfiction reading is a vital part of every fiction writer’s job.

The science fiction writer must know enough about science to make whatever mind-boggling concept she has imagined seem plausible. Fantasy writers must draw on real-life

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