Fiction Writers Who Have Changed The World

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Simon Howden

© Simon Howden @

Alex Cooper

Intern @ GoneWithTheWord

Fiction writers can change the world. We can even make it better! 

It’s easy to see the effects of certain books on the world. Religious texts, for example: The Bible. The Koran. The Book of the Dead… The list goes on. These books have changed the world. Some say for better, some say for worse. Regardless, their impact on how societies think, behave and view life cannot be refuted. 

Does your writing impact people? Can you infuse it with a new level of meaning and change the world? Most fiction writers would scoff at this. Fiction is an escape, a fantasy, or a brief adventure at best.

In response to this, I give you Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s fictitious detective, Sherlock Holmes:

‘It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.’
 (A Scandal in Bohemia)

The brilliance and antics of the 1800s detective Sherlock Holmes forever changed the methods and investigative processes of police investigations around the world.

The process… starts upon the supposition that when you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth. It may be that several explanations remain, in which case one tries test after test until one or other of them has a convincing amount of support.” Sherlock Holmes

What could be more satisfying for an author than to have a positive impact on how the world functions? To save innocents from false conviction? To capture criminals and save lives! The heady combination of Doyle’s medical training and his fertile imagination led to the creation of the first (albeit fictitious at the time) forensic lab and crime scene protocols. The scientific methods he created have become the foundation of the CSI-styled labs of governments all around the world and have led to innocent people being exonerated and guilty people imprisoned.

An author may feel satisfaction when his fiction is accepted as true to life. Conan Doyle had the rare, perhaps unique, distinction of seeing life become true to his fiction…. For instance, the use of the hand lens and the microscope; the measuring tape; the plaster cast of footprints; the extraction and examination of dust and the like from clothing; and the discrimination between bloodstains and other stains.” Sir Sydney Smith’s autobiography Mostly Murder. Smith was the former Professor of Forensic Medicine at Edinburgh University and former Medico-Legal Expert to the Ministry of Justice, in Egypt.

A recent PBS documentary shows how: “Holmes was the first to use ballistics, including bullet trajectory, as evidence in criminal cases. Long before modern toxicologists developed sophisticated tests for chemical analysis, Holmes was using scientific methods to detect the presence of poisons, which for centuries had been used as an undetectable means for murder.” 

Let your talents, specialized knowledge and imagination run the full gamut of creativity and you too can change the world…one paragraph at a time. 

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