05 December, 2014

Quotable Friday (39)

A discussion point this week! Last week the death was announced of the great wrier PD James. PD James was most famous for her series of crime novels about the detective Adam Dalgliesh, but she also became known for her advice and insight into being a writer. There are so many quotations I could use from both her fiction and her interviews, but I picked this short one because I'd like to know whether you think it's true or not...

"All fiction is largely autobiographical and much autobiography is, of course, fiction."

As a writer or a reader, do you think fiction is ever NOT autobiographical in some way? Must a writer's own life affect the way they write their characters and plot?

6 comments:

  1. Interesting. Kind of made me chuckle, the second half.

    I'd have to agree with the 2nd part more though. I write contemporary, so everything is real, but I can't say much from my life shows up in my stories. I have little or no experience with most of the problems my characters deal with. Some writers base stories off their experiences, but a lot like me do not.

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    1. Yes, I felt like that. Although I do wonder if she actually meant that we write in the way we do because of our experiences and outlook on the world, what happens in our heads must in some way affect the words we use or the subjects we explore in our fiction - they must be the subjects that interest us after all! Rather than, fiction actually being the events that happen to us.

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  2. I can see that writers might consciously or otherwise put something of themselves into a character (even a murderer!) but I think in many novel it would be a stretch to call it autobiography.

    I've also read numerous autobiographies that have seemed honest and truthful - but that could perhaps lead to a philosophical debate about the "truth"!

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    1. I think often autobiographies miss things out - not exactly fiction (lying!), but creating a flase impression. As you know, I adore Agatha Christie and loved her autobiography, but she missed any mention of her disappearance which kind of fictionalises that part of her life.

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  3. Yes and no. Sometimes and sometimes not. :)

    With some of my stories the emotional journey is something I've experienced, but the events I put in are fictional, along with the characters. But then I have stories where I'm nowhere to be seen, or you can see someone I know and their emotional journey, but not them as a person. It's a mixed bag for me. Depends on the story.

    (Freya - can't get the comment thing to work again)

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    1. I think I'm the same. Perhaps all writers write like this. Perhaps that's the only way to write - a mix of what you know and what you don't.

      I'm actually a bit afraid of writing too close to life because people who know me will then think it's all true. In a currently-shelved novel I have a teenage track and field athlete - I was a teenage track and field athlete so I really know the ins and outs and the details etc. She ends up being abused by her coach - I absolutely never was and would hate anyone to think I was as my coaches were wonderful! Half-truths can be dangerous things!

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