|Photo/ Chris Greene|
We all have a story to tell, some piece of our past, some experience that has molded and shaped us. But is it enough for a book? Or does it need some embellishment to really make it readable?
I recently read an article from The Writer magazine in which the author, Art Edwards, poses that question and wonders how far writers should go in manipulating experiences to create an engaging memoir.
We’re certainly familiar with authors who went too far (James Frey) in writing a “memoir” when maybe they would have been better off to have written a fiction piece or a book that was “based on” actual events.
A good story is a good story and people may love the work regardless of its label. But as Edwards points out in his column, “For writers, however, the difference between writing novels and writing a memoir is significant. The more you invent in your work, the less likely you can call it a memoir.”
For most of us the line may be very clear and we’re not tempted to invent entire experiences under the guise of a memoir. But what about adding a line of dialogue or what happens when you remember an incident, but you don’t remember every last detail? Do you make up the color of the walls? Do you insert something you think you said?
As Edwards closes the column, he notes, “It’s up to each writer to decide if her life informs her work, or is contrived for the sake of it.”
How do you handle these situations? Have you written a memoir and dealt with this issue?