Fake news has become rightfully a problem for journalists, but the relation between journalism and fiction is a bit more complicated. Beijing-based journalist Zhang Lijia, author of Lotus: A Novel covered some of the common ground at the literary festival at Ubud, Indonesia, she writes on her weblog.
Journalism and fiction cover a lot of common ground. There’s little wonder that some successful writers come from journalistic background, Mark Twin, Ernest Hemingway, Joan Didion, to name just a few.
Some journalists got into the profession because they love writing. Then some find journalism frustrating and limiting. There’s a fundamental difference between the two: one is pure imagination and the other pure documentation. In journalism, you have to stick to what has actually happened. You can’t allow your imagination go wild. That’s a major restriction for some literary minded journalists. That was why in the 60s the so-called ‘New Journalism’ was launched in US where journalists generously borrowed techniques commonly used in faction writing, setting the scenes, good conversation, sense of suspense, character development. One good example is in Cold Blood by Truman Capote.
I’d like to think that I’ve become a slightly better writer after spending years in completing the novel and I hope I can better apply the fictional techniques I’ve learnt in my future non-fiction books.
Are you interested in more stories by Zhang Lijia? Do check out this list.