On Writing “True” Fiction

Writing Truth

Fiction is a lie, and good fiction is the truth inside the lie – Stephen King

I believe that one of the most difficult tasks to master when writing fiction is to write truth.

Fiction must have more of a ring of truth to its words than nonfiction often does, because as Mark Twain so expertly articulated, “Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.”

I don’t pretend to have the recipe for writing what is both true and fictitious, but being a new mom has me stumbling on some new realizations about my own writing and writing in general.

I’ll share what I’ve been learning and would love to hear what you think makes fiction writing ring true in the comments.

Writing truth comes from a place of humility.

Writing as if you have some deep insight on life or even your character’s psyche doesn’t ring as true as approaching subjects and characters with humility. The willingness to accept the mystery in this world, the finite nature of humanity, even your own limitations can infuse your writing with unforgettable characters and moments of profound insight on life.

It’s organic. 

Writing is very much a discipline, but I still believe the truest writing can’t be coerced. The best and truest writing must still flow from a place of conviction, experience and acceptance of what we’ve been given to write.

It’s not all “wrapped up”

In 6th grade, I entered a local writing contest and was invited to a luncheon with a local author. The guest author who evaluated our stories said that my story was good, but the ending was too “wrapped up.” It was the first time I realized that good fiction always has some fraying strands because life is never perfectly wrapped up either.

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