Truth and Fiction, Where Is The Line?

“I want to write the story of my life, but I want it to be interesting!”

This is what a writer friend of mine said to me recently.

“Well, do you want to fictionalize it, like a blend of truth and fiction?” I offered.

“I don’t know, where is the line?”

“Are you saying your life story is boring?”

“Not entirely, it just needs a little embellishing.”

“So, you want to exaggerate the truth to make it more juicy?”

“Right, I might change some events altogether.”

“So, now you want to sell your life story as a novel.”

“Sounds good to me. It might sell then!”

“But will your life story be believable if you exaggerate too much?”

“I don’t see why not. Some say there’s a bearded man in the sky who created everything in seven days! Yet the same people say unicorns and fairies don’t exist!”

I smiled: “I know there’s a lot of conflicting ideas about truth and fiction in our so called “logical” world!”

“The dictionary says fiction is an invented story, not real. Truth is defined as accurate, conforming to fact, agreement with reality.”

We both were pondering those two words for a few minutes.

“Well, I think fiction actually comes from truth! Your fiction comes from incidents of truth. The incidents might be exaggerated and stretched to make them more interesting.”

“So, fiction is an escape from the boring truth of the world.”

“You could put it that way!”

“Many authors fictionalized their autobios. Dickens did with “David Copperfield”. F. Scott Fitzgerald did it in a couple of his novels, but they were considered fiction.”

“Why did they do it?”

“Probably, too many demons in their lives made them uncomfortable. Maybe through fiction they could tell the truth without humiliating themselves.”

“I’m still confused,” said my writer friend, “I want to make my life story interesting but real!”

“Well, what do we do when we write fiction?”

He thought about it for a minute and said: “We invent characters and events that feel real to the reader.”

“Right, spot on!”

My writer friend smiled.

“Now, one way to make it seem real is to use exaggerated autobio details.”

“Maybe this dilemma of truth or fiction or a mixture is getting clearer.”

“Most novelists incorporate pieces of their lives in their stories to ground their friction in reality.”

“So, to convert the truth to fiction, use the juiciest bits in your life and toss the uninteresting parts in the bin. This way you can use a piece of truth to its fictional advantage.”

Writer friend seemed satisfied!

“I’ve put a lot of “me” into my stories and sometimes the ratio of truth to fiction is very small.”

Someone once said: “Imagination and fiction make up more than three quarters of our life!”

“Well, I guess I will start on my autobiographical fictional life story. I probably won’t even recognize it as MY LIFE!”

7 thoughts on “Truth and Fiction, Where Is The Line?

  1. I will have to have my grand-daughter read this one.
    She is a writer, but I can’t get her to let me read
    anything she writes. Maybe this will help her. I feel
    even when people tell a true story, they want to
    improve on it to make it more interesting. Thanks
    for a great story.

  2. I think everyone wants to be more interesting then they are. My solution is to pick out a caricature that is really interesting and clam it to be me, like James Bond. My wife fell for it but then wives always believe there loving husbands don’t they?

  3. Very few people have such interesting/exciting lives that they would be able to sell them in the form of an autobiography – unless you are the Beckhams of course! For the rest of us mere mortals, embellishing and exaggerating make us feel a bit better about ourselves. Not lying of course…that would be wrong!

  4. I would certainly rather read your life story than mine. If you write about me (and I don’t know why you ever would), be kind. I’m very sensitive.

  5. Never even considered an autobiography, but did do a class on writing your life story. Never finished mine!
    Like you, there is a lot of me in my characters. I won’t tell you which ones!

  6. You asked me recently if I ever considered writing my bio,Dave ..Like everybody else I have stand-out events …but most days are spent in pedestrian activities.

    Since I joined Twitter ,almost 4 years ago ,my digital life has begun to take over !…but it’s good to share snippets,wh/ are sometimes retweeted or even favorited .Good for the morale of an #Oldie .

    Yesterday I shared my Westminster Hall experience: 1965 for Churchill’s lying-in-state …younger tweeps were fascinated !

    Here I go *rabbiting on* …I don’t think I have a book in me…of any genre !

  7. In life there are no guarantees! We come from oblivion when we are born. We return to oblivion when we die. The wondrous thing is the period in between!So, write about it!

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