The Defintion of Fiction

        You remember how I told you I had a few folks here in Harvey County who were gonna look over my manuscript?  I didn’t want them to feel the need to do an all out edit, and I didn’t want to eat up too much of their time.  I was more interested as to whether it was relevant to their walk of life.

        One was a creative writing teacher.  She said she found it a compelling story with lovable characters, especially Indie.  She did say it was in need of copy editor.  She invited me and my wife over to dinner, partly to talk about the story, but also to give me an English lesson.  My mom was an English teacher, and I begged this teacher lady not to tell my mama how many typos and grammatical errors I committed.  I did not plan to show it to mom until I took it to the next level.  I promised the English teacher I would visit her class and tell her students they better pay attention to something besides girls and guitars.

           Another was a minister, and he loved Indie too, so much so he could overlook a few cuss words or the fact Dr. Bibey could be a smart-ass at times.  He promised he wouldn’t tell mama that either.

        The third was from a lawyer.  I didn’t ask for any kind of binding legal opinion; I didn’t think that would be fair.  I did want his legal perspective, though.  Was it realistic?  Did it make sense to a lawyer?  This guy is in a position to know.

          He had two statements that made me happy.  For one, he knew a new doctor who might move to Harvey County, and the cat plays flat-pick guitar.  Can you beat that?  This is a well connected bluegrass lawyer if there ever was one.

        But as far as the book, the other comment was even more important.  When this lawyer speaks I listen.  I have all respect for him.   For him, the story brought back a flood of memories of many different people he had run into over the years.  However, he could not positively ID a single one of the characters, even though he was in and out of Harvey County all through the time the Mandolin Case went on.  It reminded him of dozens of old cases.  He said the story did as fine a job as he has ever seen to show the truth but not tell the facts. 

        Man, I can’t wait to call my agent.  He has spent years trying to teach me the definition of fiction.  He is  a very strict man, but if I showed the truth and did not tell the facts I might be close to the standard he demands.  As the Nashville Bluegrass Band said, “I’m a slow learner,” but I’m getting there.

Dr. B

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14 Comments on “The Defintion of Fiction”

  1. bakersgirl Says:

    Yay! Good for you having people look over your novel. Mine is still in the “I don’t think it will ever see the light of day” stages – My rough rough draft needs lots of work.

    I’m excited for you that you have a character people can connect with – that’s really important.

  2. drtombibey Says:


    Oh Lord, it took a long time to get to this point. It takes a community of artists to make a writer out of a doctor. The main one was my agent, but it was also a half dozen mandolin pickers, forty-eleven bluegrass boys, assorted golfer/gamblers, several exasperated English teachers/Professors and one very patient wife who accepts this old Doc for what he is. Without all of them it would have never happened.

    Just keep believing in your story and it will get there.

    Dr. B

  3. Dr. B – AH! The anticipation in me is rising more and more with every tantalizing post about your book. I’m so glad that the three people you gave it to liked the story, because to me, that’s really the most important part of any fiction novel – whether based on fact or not, that the story is enjoyable and engaging and that the characters are ones you care about.
    I think your mom would forgive you the grammatical mistakes, though! If she’s a stickler for grammar she also knows how hard it is to self-edit things.

  4. drtombibey Says:


    So good to hear from you. The only thing I hate about where the deal is now is I don’t get to see what the characters will do every day, and it will be a long time before all my blog buddies get a hold of it. But when they do, Lord are we gonna have a good time with it.

    Yeah, mom will probably forgive the grammar mistakes, but I am not as sure about the cuss words. If you run into her, well… I guess tell her the devil made me do that part.

    Dr. B

  5. Smitty Neuse River Pres. Says:

    From what I have heard the English teacher is on go with the book. The Neuse River Fan Club met the other day and discussed possible ways to fly you in for the book signing. We thought about a fund raiser, say a Hee Haw production, bucket drive downtown or the ole’ trusty car wash but we did not come to any type of decision. We will have another meeting to talk some more. Take care Doc, IBMA award goes to Doc Bibey “The Mandolin Case”.

  6. drtombibey Says:


    I owe the English teachers of the world a great debt. Once the book comes out, I would like to repay it by doing some classroom work such as with the Bread Loaf model.

    The first thing I will tell the students is to pay attention when anyone tries to teach them anything. You never know when you might need it.

    I’ll be back to Mississippi. I loved it there.

    Dr. B

  7. Cindy Carter Says:

    When I was in high school, our English teacher said that good fiction is the willing suspension of disbelief. Of course meaning that you could actually “see” the story actually happening. From what I read of your book, that is what I would tag it.

    Can’t wait for my autographed copy….. Where do I stand in line?

  8. drtombibey Says:

    Ms. Cindy,

    I love that definition too- excellent.

    I tell you the truth Ms Cindy I have about a dozen faithful blog readers who go all the way back to the start of the thing, and are at the top of my list. You for sure are in my top ten in the world.

    My book is all about loyalty. I can tell from your blog you are from N.C. Book signings will start in my home state. In N.C. outside of family you are in the top three in my book, so if that don’t get a signed copy I ain’t worth much.

    In N.C. look for the mandolin duo of Dr. Tommy Bibey and Darin Aldridge in a year or so at a book store near you- we’re making plans.

    Dr. B

  9. Mrs. Chili Says:

    I really do think you’ve nailed it, Doc; fiction is being able to tell a believable story without telling a TRUE story.

    I’m so proud of you!

  10. drtombibey Says:


    Old Doc is the ultimate tortise, but making progress.

    And while we are on the subject of loyalty, mrschili is on that top ten list too, and the top three in New England. Me and Ms. Marfar are gonna see you on the tour someday, and take you, mrchili, and all the little chilis out to eat.

    Dr. B

  11. Amber Says:

    Oh Dr. B! Im so glad you are finally getting down to the nitty gritty of getting this baby delivered! I look forward to reading this masterpiece!

  12. drtombibey Says:

    Ms. Amber,

    I hoped I’d hear from the California kid on this post- I thought you would be happy about the progress.

    I think woman of accomplishment are gonna dig my book. I have several very strong female characters. There is one who is a bad, bad bitch, but then there is an evil man in the thing too, so it is a balanced perspective.

    And then there is this Bibey guy. Naive, bright but not brilliant, country, he is like a medical Colombo. He keeps stumbling into the truth only because he is so earnest about finding it.

    I know it will not be considered the next classic, but I will do my best to show the most honest fiction I can. One thing is certain. I know country docs and bluegrass, and readers are gonna get to go deep into that world.

    Dr. B

  13. Karen Says:

    I love your self-deprecating humour – makes me laugh every time! I can just imagine you holding your hat in the hands, looking at the floor as your Mamma chides you for cussing…or sitting across the table from the teacher having an English lesson. Glad they enjoyed it so much and fell in love with your characters. I have it on good authority (OK, I read it on another blog) that plot-driven novels are a thing of the past. Publishers are looking for character driven novels every time. If that’s the case, sounds like you’ll be signing on the dotted line before you know it…

  14. drtombibey Says:

    Ms Karen,

    Character driven. I like that. As a Family Doc, the people were always the ticket for me, and I hope that shows in my story.

    I feel like I spent my life as a doctor, and I am not really a writer, but I have a good story, a great agent, and a lot of friends willing to help me. My agent always says that even if it is not a religious book per se, the backbone of any Southern novel should be the King James. Even though there is sone cussing in the book (I dread my mama seeing that part) the Good Lord drives it all for me. I hope I will be up to the responsibilty to show the truth.

    As we say in bluegrass, it ain’t life or death; it’s a whole lot more important than that.

    Dr. B

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