In this recurring feature, we’re sharing tips for editors from the desk of Douglas Gibson. Good for those starting out or old hands who need a reminder, these reminders form an engaging guide for sharp-eyed wordsmiths.
Every so often the book world erupts in furious argument about whether a new title should be classed as “fiction” or “non-fiction.” My advice here is to follow The Bartender’s Rule: If a drink has any alcohol in it, it’s an alcoholic drink.
So it is with fiction. Even if a book is 99% true, the 1% that is invented makes the book fiction. Consider the horror of congratulating a non-fiction author on a particularly striking fact, or true-life scene, and being told “Oh, that scene? I made it up!” Follow The Bartender’s Rule.