Thursday, July 2, 2009

On Truth

“In writing one must be bold, free, and truthful.” – Brenda Ueland in If You Want to Write.
I’m sure when Ms. Ueland speaks of being truthful, she means truthful to oneself, to write honestly. I began an article on truth in fiction at lunch today. In it the author discusses the difference between real truth and the truth that drives fiction. The latter may not be 100% accurate to a specific event, but it may represent the kind of truth required to tell an engaging story. For example (and I’m paraphrasing from the article), a child commits suicide, but the parents present another reason for the death, a reason that is more acceptable to them and one easier for them to live with. Both versions are true in some way, but the latter may be more appropriate when writing fiction.

I attempted to write a fictional tale based on an event that happened to me. It wasn't very good. The story, while accurate, felt stilted, tired. I did a few rewrites, but the result was about the same. I couldn't get far enough away from the truth to make the story interesting and believable, if that makes sense.

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