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Wordsmiths101
Where writers just are...
Truth vs. Self 
7th-Apr-2007 10:43 pm
ponderances, thinky thoughts
We've talked a bit about truth in writing, how even within the wildest fantasy there must be truth in order for an audience to relate and suspend disbelief.

Some people took this as putting some of themself in their writing, and while I can have truth, it can be completely not my personal truth. If I were writing something historical, I can do a tonne of research and include a lot of accuracy and still not have it be *me*.

So, now I'd like to talk a bit about that. How much, as an author, do you put of yourself into your writing?

I have personally known or seen authors who will create lead characters in their likeness and then make them into heroes. Laurell K. Hamilton comes to mind. It is glaringly obvious how she puts herself into her writing, as Anita Blake.

Stephen King, Anne Rice, Edgar Allen Poe, etc used their writings to exorcise personal demons.

Jack London expanded upon personal experience through settings and characters in his life, as did Mark Twain and well, I could go on and on and on.

My point, everyone does it in different  ways. Some through their protagonist, some through personal connection to a setting, some through support characters, etc. I have found that these authors are fairly consistent in how they present it though.

It has made me stop and look at my stories at how I put myself into it and I realised I am not so consistent across the board. For my "fantasy"/experimental I put the truth more in characters. For the more realistic stories I think it is easier because it is through situation, character and setting. I also feel, in thinking on this,that I find those of either historic or "fantasy"/experimental to be more enjoyable for me to write because they are more challenging to put myself, truth and balance into.

What are your thoughts on this?
Comments 
9th-Apr-2007 02:21 pm (UTC)
When I was younger, my writing was much more true-to-life. Which is sort of odd, in a way, given how much more experience I have now. You'd think I'd have a bit more truth to write about.

But fiction is what I love. And in addition to earning all that experience, I've also been exposed, through various forms of fiction, to a lot of other ideas that I want to play with.

So I don't know if this will make a lot of sense, but this is how I work this out. I go ahead and write the story I want to write. For me there's a story plot and a character plot, and as I type that I don't know if you need to know that or not. But anyway, I put in whatever elements I can think of to makes things happen so that I can show certain things...

Things things things. Clear as mud.

Ok, say I want to write something about two people who are very much alone, always have been, feel that they always will be, at least one of them actually thinks they want it that way. I give them backgrounds that are very different but that produce the same loner-type result. I add elements to the story plot that bring these things out, keep them together in spite of themselves, whatever. I add elements to the character plot that show some inner stuggle against a need for the other person, etc.

When I go to flesh things out and try to make this real for the reader, I sit down and I try to figure out what I'm trying to show with just this scene. What's the emotion the character is feeling and that I want the reader to get from them. I think about what in my life might be similar. Maybe nothing that's happened to me is really similar, but just as their manufactured backgrounds were different yet produced matched pair personalities, maybe there's something in my background that produced something similar. Or maybe they're reacting to a situation that was like no situtation I've ever faced, but I know the feeling from something. We've all known humiliation, despair, loneliness, longing, joy, anticipation...to some degree. That's the point at which I try to remember what that feeling was like and try to infuse that memory into what I'm writing.

My real hope right now is that when I do this it's clearer to the reader than when I try to explain it to you!
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