London is a city of many surprises, one of which is L’Autre, the French-named restaurant with Polish and Mexican cuisine. Go figure.
My topic this week is writing truth. That may sound odd, because if anyone asks me what I do, I’m happy to tell them that I’m a professional liar. But, I always tell the truth in my writing. And so should you.
I tell the truth of what’s in my heart, and in the hearts of my characters. Believe it or not, I write a lot of characters that I frankly don’t like, but I enjoy taking on their persona for a time, if only because I get to give them their comeuppance when I’m done with them. I’m not saying that I put my political views into a story, because that I never do. But if you were to read enough of my stories, you’d probably figure out my politics, because, again, I tell the truth when I lie.
On the nose? Well, I hope not. “On the nose,” if you don’t know, means being overly obvious in what you’re trying to impart. It is most often applied to humor, and in fact, describes what is wrong with most political humor. Whether you’re making a joke about Obama or Trump, if you state your opinion in the course of the telling, it’s “on the nose,” and the joke won’t work. I know, sometimes SNL does that, but they do it in a way that makes the “on the nose” part a part of the joke. If you don’t understand what I just wrote, there, please do not try it at home, nor anywhere else.
Rather than explicitly state your views, consider the real world consequences of somebody who holds those views when that person applies them to their life. This can be a very useful exercise, even if you don’t get a story out of it, because you sometimes will find that you need to modify, moderate, or intensify, your own worldview, in light of what you discover in watching your character. Psychotherapy through creating! Not a new idea, but still a good one.
My bottom-line conclusion is that one should always write the truth of one’s beliefs, but never state them explicitly. I think that, if you can pull that off, you can write some wonderfully memorable prose.