Wednesday 18 December 2019

Truth and Fiction in Writing Biography and Autobiography


Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

When we are not truthful and why

 We take liberties with the truth to make our text interesting.

 How do we choose what to put in and what to leave out? How does what we leave out contribute to what we are saying?

We exaggerate. We by overemphasize the significance of something. We may make something bigger or smaller than it actually was.   

 We are discreet. We leave some facts out so that people are not hurt.

We invent to fill gaps. This may be a genuine attempt to use our imagination to work out what has happened. Indeed this is a technique used frequently in fantasy and science fiction but perhaps also more surprisingly in historical fiction. How might they have managed something that looks impossible?   

Our memory may not be reliable. We might remember several versions of an event, particularly if it is disturbing. Others may also remember a particular event differently.  

We may colour what happened with our current emotions. If something happened a lot time ago we may have spent years analysing it and rationalising it. Writing with the senses can help us to avoid this.  Immerse yourself back in the scene. What did you see, hear, smell, feel - in both senses of the word? Importantly what was the reaction to that scene then, not now?      

Some points to ponder

  1.  Why are we not fully truthful in autobiography?
  2.  What are we saying by what we leave out?
  3. Why do we write autobiography?

No comments:

Post a Comment