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Truth in Fiction

It always seems there’s another level of honesty.

A rough draft contains truth, but a first draft should have more and a second draft even more. Along with editing for syntax, clarity and rhythm, I want to make honesty imperative. Honesty lets characters behave as they would, not as I prefer.

It has messed up my plotting more than once. But that balance between plot and character differs, depending on the type of book. Strongly plotted books can only function with characters who seem less true, or maybe less detailed. But I don't think honest characters have to make a boring plot. I think they push me to find the story for them.

I don't ask any character to imitate my personal morality -- you know, the way Dame Barbara Cartland used to preserve every heroine's virginity until marriage. Although in Stephenie Meyer's Twilight, I found the same situation honest. But that's because I disagree with Stephen King - Twilight is NOT about the importance of having a boyfriend.

But even these measures aren't enough. There's also the question of how much characters influence each other. Rewrites often find me adjusting reactions, questioning levels of trust. Open to debate, some of the decisions, if I can only find someone informed enough to argue with me!

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January 2015

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