3 questions to ask yourself when writing The Truth
Mining your life for the sake of your art can feel scary and vulnerable. The good news is, whether you are using your personal experiences in memoir, short story or poem form, you get to choose what you include. The best details are those which offer truths to which readers can relate, creating a plausible reality, even in a sci-fi universe.
Borrowing from or straight-up recording your personal history and observations is a sure-fire way to develop an emotional connection between your reader and your writing, but there is that aspect of vulnerability, especially if you intend to share your writing with others. To help you decide which details to include and which to leave out, consider the following:
Ask yourself who it will hurt.
If the answer is no one, proceed as planned. If the answer is someone, consider who. If the person is a close friend or family member, you can ask them how they feel about what you are writing. Their response will likely be predicated by how visible they feel in your work, whether they are easily identifiable, and how they are portrayed.
Ask yourself if it is honest.
You certainly don’t have to be honest in fiction, and there is no point in bothering a friend if you are writing fictional details based on them. However, if you are writing an alternate interpretation of a conversation you once had, checking in with a friend to let them know it’s a “what if” situation can prevent misunderstanding if and when your writing goes public, especially if their role is vilified.
Ask yourself if it is helpful.
How are the details you are including serving you or your story? If you are slapping them on paper simply to unload the burden, you may want to reconsider whether they are truly meant for consumption or for relief. There is a considerable difference; writing meant for relief can be a burr in your side once publicly consumed.
Remember, great writing is based on experience. Through experience, we achieve deeper understanding of why we or our characters behave(d) in a certain way and can better relate to our readers through the page.
Do you have concerns when writing the truth about your life? If so, how do you tackle those ethical issues? Share with us in the comments!
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