Truth in writing, what does it mean to the writer, how important is it?
Nonfiction is a form of narrative whose assertions are understood to be factual; accurate or not. That is, it can be a true or false account of the subject in question; however it is generally assumed that the authors of such accounts believe them to be truthful at the time of their composition. I put it to you that, oftentimes, those prose are written from a highly prejudicial point of view. I can just see those nonfiction purists among you shaking your heads.
Historical fiction authors sift through the cold, hard, dry statements of fact and write what can loosely be termed ‘semi-fictional’ accounts of history. The history lessons I received at school were presented as fact; and yet, little mention was made of the standing residents of those newly invaded discovered lands; it was certainly never made plain to me that they were in fact dispossessed, and quite brutally so in most cases. Writers of historical fiction make reasonable assumptions in regard to what was going on in the heads of the people involved to give a somewhat fuller picture, and the general public, inadvertently, discover more by reading those stories than they otherwise would have. You tell me, who paints the more accurate picture of any, given historical period?
Science Fiction is what we can imagine as possible future(s) development(s) in light of our currently accepted truth with regard to what we presently consider to be scientific fact. That’s one point of view. Personally, I like to believe that we the authors, with our imaginations, are the trail blazers; leaving the scientists then struggling to keep up.
Journalism, purported to be factual, as we all know can be highly erroneous. Focussing on certain factual details (and in some cases even that is dubious) while ignoring others, they oftentimes fill out the rest with supposition, which of course is subjective. There are many recorded cases where, with their methodology, journalists have wrongfully, devastatingly, hung people out to dry who were later exonerated by an author providing a dramatised account of the story.
In the case of Crime fiction, based on ‘true crime’, a writer can use poetic licence, dramatise for effect and, through analysis of facts, hypothesise what goes on in the heads of the criminal perpetrators (now characters in the Crime Fiction); and perhaps even make some sense out of an apparently senseless episode.
Truth in writing, what does it mean to the writer, how important is it? Is it merely subjective as it is in real er… life? I believe this is a subject that could be serialised, explored from every angle, like most of the topics touched upon at IU. What is your truth?