Telling the Truth

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Telling the Truth

Post by BetweenTwoWorlds » April 19th, 2011, 11:44 am

The hardest part of writing a novel (for me) is telling the truth.

No, I'm not saying that fiction is true. It is fiction. Made up. Imaginary. The world doesn't exist except in the mind of the novelist and, if he is very good and very lucky, in the mind of the reader as well.

The hard part of creating that world is telling that truth. Not holding back to be nice or to be polite or even to make a sale. But telling the truth in that world so that the crises and solutions are accurate and honest.

Telling the truth doesn't mean a certain style. A writer can tell the truth using the language of Queen Elizabeth I or the language of Jay-Z. It is about gut-wrenching honesty, where the writer feels as if the keyboard should be hidden, the computer should be triple-password-protected, the bound copies kept on a shelf in a locked closet behind a curtain and a surly armed guard with limited intelligence and one task: keep the truth from being discovered and mangled by well-meaning people who want to make it palatable or family friendly or even, God help us, marketable.

It means that a writer sends his work out to the world with a mix of trembling fear and bold assurance: will this be true for others as well? Are there others who think and feel the same, or who even do not yet realize they do? Will this novel awaken something readers will discover they always knew but never thought about?

Every word has to be true, even though it is unreal.

That's the hard part. That's the part that we - or maybe it's just I - slide away from. Scene after scene, descriptive paragraph and narrative and action - we want the story to go on, but we want to avoid revealing all the unpleasantness that is in the story.

Perhaps it is because we shy away from the truth of that story. And perhaps it is because we realize the story comes from us, and is revealing something about us we'd rather not ever show anyone, not even ourselves.

It is hard - damned hard - to tell that truth. But unless we do that - why are we writing the story?
WIP1-4: Dead, and buried, and lost in time
WIP5: Finished, but hidden in a drawer
WIP6: 72k YA/MG. Working on 3nd edit.

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Re: Telling the Truth

Post by dios4vida » April 20th, 2011, 10:10 am

Very beautiful post, BetweenTwoWorlds. I think you're dead on. Our novels have to ring with the Truth or no one will be interested. For me, putting in those hard, gut-wrenching things is actually easy. I feel like my characters deserve to live all of life to its fullest, but that means they need their share of suffering as well. I also found it very cathartic when I was dealing with losses in my life. When my characters were struggling with truth, I didn't feel so alone.

I guess it all comes down to we have to be true to ourselves and our characters. If we aren't true in the core of ourselves, how can we put that truth onto paper for the reader to see?
Brenda :)

Inspiration isn't about the muse. Inspiration is working until something clicks. ~Brandon Sanderson

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