April 22, 2011

"What's the Difference? True Crime vs. Crime Flash Non-Fiction" - Benjamin Sobieck

Friday is normally the day for new stories, but seeing as there's a break between submissions (it is Easter weekend), I figured I'd throw in some food for thought.

I've received tremendous feedback after starting "Fingerprints." Readers love the stories and concept. There are plenty of great flash non-fiction 'zines out there, but none focused exclusively on crime.

Hence the term "crime flash non-fiction." But aren't they really "true crime" stories? That's something readers wanted to know.

Although all the stories here are true and about crime, they're not "true crime." They're "crime flash non-fiction." The difference is how each handles the narrative.

The true crime genre chronicles events from a journalistic perspective. The crime event happened, then someone researched and memorialized it in various media. The narrative component is there, but it's secondary to the journalistic component.

The opposite is true with crime flash non-fiction. The narrative component comes first. Because of this, it's much more personal, and written from the perspective of someone who experienced the crime event. The journalistic component is secondary.

That allows crime flash non-fiction more room for creativity and catharsis.  The titles can get funky ("Trap Zombie"), serious allegations can take a light-hearted bent ("Public Enemy Number One") and the criminal events don't have to be earth-shattering ("The Heart of Saturday Afternoon").

That's the difference. The story matters. The ability to tell it in an engaging way matters. The way it affected the storyteller matters.

With true crime, facts matter. The who, what, where, when and how take the front seat.

Don't get me wrong, I love true crime. It's just not quite what "Fingerprints" is about.

Be well and have a Happy Easter!

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