Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Truth and fiction in writing

When you study history you find out that absolute truth does not exist in writing. All texts portray the subjective viewpoint of the author. Truth, as in absolute truth, is rarely written and in fact may not be possible to write except for in grand instances. This is a problem that occurs because people's minds do not recall details perfectly, agendas come into play and bias twists perspective. This is also why the study of history will never stop, not just because history keeps being created.

So when truth is written as truth you need to be aware that it often contains fiction or bald falsehoods, depending on the intent. Writers should try to be objective or at least place a disclaimer of sorts on their non-fiction works so that the reader has at least some confidence in what is written or doesn't place too much. Purposely misleading readers by disseminating misinformation is the same as a politician lying to his constituents. This might sound harsh but writers spreading falsehoods on purpose only do so for a reason, whether that be money, fame, gratitude, empowerment, safety or other rewards. Much as what a politician would. The politician example isn't the only one applicable here. Big businessmen have been known to do so, often destroying the livelihoods of others in the process.

In writing fiction the reverse can be said. No matter the genre; crime, fantasy, science-fiction, romance, historical or literature, there is always truth included within the text. Truth appears in the character's emotions, reactions, desires, fears, faults and flaws. It appears in the base understandings of the world's structure and all within it, because even when a fantasy world is written only a few elements of the real world is distorted to create the fictional one. Utopian and dystopian literature reflect our fears and desires. Futuristic literature often explores problems and issues in our current society projected forward.

Truth and fiction go hand in hand. One never appears in writing without the other. If writing non-fiction, it is the responsibility of the author to make sure what is written is as accurate to the truth as possible. This is not always done so it is also the responsibility of the reader to question everything and not allow other people to pull the wool over their eyes without a fight. If writing fiction, it is the responsibility of the author to reference other people's works, to work in a many that doesn't bring liable and to not use fiction to promote dangerous causes. Affiliating oneself with an ideology or political encampment is fine but inciting others to violence (or any other detrimental action) for a cause, no matter the method, is illegal and aside from that, immoral.

It is a difficult maze to navigate at times but that is what it means to write. Words have immense power and should be handled responsibly, not thrown around as though whatever is written can be fobbed off as meaning nothing. Writing is a heritage of our evolution and has been increasingly important in the survival of humanity for it relays ideals, records developments and mistakes and because of its long history of use what is written is often seen as incredibly reliable. Sometimes despite our better judgement.

So write remembering that what you say and portray is important and can impress your ideas upon another quite strongly (no matter the format you've chosen). Try to build upon the integrity of our written language, not degrade it.

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