What Facts Fail to Tell


The destiny of the world is determined less by the battles that are lost and won than by the stories it loves and believes in. -Harold Goddard

Hemingway once said that retelling facts do not make a story, it makes a report. A good story is always true, as far as the storyteller’s experience and wisdom can reach. A writer has to make up the stuff that facts fail to tell, in order for the story to become true.

For instance;

Scene 1:

Indonesian, male, Mid-twenties to early thirties, lives in Indonesia, has a French girlfriend, only socializes with other Caucasians, speaks a cocktail of European of languages, has only graduated from elementary school.

What’s his life story? Why does he only hang out with Caucasians? Aren’t his fellow countrymen good enough to entertain him?

Possible explanations: It’s a matter of survival. If he doesn’t network heavily with tourists, and adds reasons for them to trust him by having a French girlfriend, he won’t eat.

Scene 2:

Saudi, male, early-to-mid thirties, married with kids, lives and works in Australia, supports innovative Saudis, writes about Saudi in both Arabic and English, but does not seem to want to live in Saudi in the near future.

What’s his life story? Why is he not living in Saudi if he’s so obsessed about it that he keeps a handful of blogs about Saudi society?

Possible explanations: It’s a matter a survival. He’s a natural artist. In Saudi, he had to choose between a corporate job or live on charity for the sake of his art. He had to choose between money and art. In Australia, he could have both. One for love, the other for sanity.

Scene 3:

Border guard captain, age unknown, spent his life standing up for his adopted home, seen his race molested through the history of man, sees an armada of foreign ships approaching the borders of what he loves and protects. Thinks about the families and homes behind him. Makes a decision. Fires and kills 19 people.

Make up his story. Just remember:

"It's hard to hate anyone whose story you know." ~ Roslyn Bresnick-Perry

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