Could you share a few of them here?
More than you realize! Sometimes the stories can be saved by removing a few unrealistic details (i.e. changing “they shouted at me for an hour” to “they shouted at me for a long time”) - but some stories can’t be saved regardless of how good they are (and everyone clapped).
I laugh when I see comments on published stories that follow the “I’ll take things that never happened for $400 please, Bob!” because if only they knew the kinds of stories that didn’t make the cut!
Sometimes we will hold on to a story and do some research to see if this stuff happens in real life. For example, I held off publishing a story about a parent trying to x-ray their toddler in an airport, because what parent would be that stupid, right? And then a few months later I see this exact same thing happen in the news, so I dust off the story and publish it.
At the end of the day it’s all subjective, and we might not get it right every time, but we do try to ensure the site is full of good yet relatable stories.
And if you really want to get depressed, add the words “And then they voted”
TV tropes had a section (Wild Mass Gusses?) Where it said people didn’t used to believe that it could be that possible in a bunch of stories that a cop just happened to be behind the bad customer
Do you have any favorite stories that were just too fake sounding to publish?
What are the most obvious indicators to a dubious submission? Something comment boards usually pick up on is “and everybody clapped” or some variation on, or witticisms that seem more like what the submitter wanted to say in the moment like they were a sitcom character delivering a zinger but came up with after.
Maybe you could make a section that is themed “These stories almost definitely didn’t happen but we love them” somewhere?
Not Always True, Not Always Fact or Not Always Verifiable? Each story would need the disclaimer that it can’t be confirmed to be real or not and is only posted for entertainment value to pre-empt the “FAKE!” comments.
We like to champion authenticity as much as possible at NAR, so I don’t think the main site would be a good place to publish stories we are dubious about, but I can’t see the harm in sharing some on the forum if the editors like it.
To answer what are indicators for dubious submissions:
- Unrealistically aggressive customers who are 100% evil - sadly the bar for this gets lower each year and it also becomes suspect if they’re painted with a political brush.
- Long walls of speech-like dialogue - Sometimes the ending can involve the OP making a satisfying and perfectly articulated victory speech that doesn’t ring true. If the OP prefaces it with a line like “I have heard this complaint before and this time I am ready” then we’re more willing to accept it.
- Perfect timing and coincidences - Like the aforementioned policeman behind the criminal, these can and do happen in real life, but we become suspect if they’re just TOO perfect. Often these are the stories we will sit on until we can find an example happening in real life. Usually a google search starting with “Florida Man” is enough!
There are countless more that happen in the moment during the editorial process. I’ll add some here as I think of them.
Did this raise any questions?
I’m guessing KillerTomato wasn’t the editor that approved that one.
I had to change a few details for the sake of anonymity when submitting a story. It was only afterwards that I realised that with those changes, the story sounded completely made up, even though it was true. I’m sure that’s happened to other people when submitting their stories.
Has that one come through yet?
No idea, it was a few years ago and I didn’t particularly look for it because I knew the comments would be full of cries of fake. I’d write it completely differently if I was submitting it now.