One of the e-newsletters that I read comes from writing coach Roy Sorrels. This week his newsletter had some great advice. He has been kind enough to let me share his article here:
The Whole Truth
***The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but….” If you’ve ever testified in a courtroom you’ve spoken those words, a solemn promise to tell the truth.
The problem with much of what we write is that we do indeed tell the truth, but often we don’t tell the whole truth.
Here’s what I mean: When I was teaching one of my face-to-face memoir classes, an elderly woman wrote about her wedding day. She wrote about how happy she was, how much in love she was, what a fine fellow her new husband (who was still her husband after almost 50 years) was.
And it was all, I believed, the truth.
But I suspected that it wasn’t the whole story. And I told her (gently) that I thought the whole story, the “whole truth,” would make a much more compelling piece of memoir.
The next week she brought the piece back, revised. Now it included the fact that the wedding was in the middle of the Great Depression. She was out of work, her new husband was out of work. She had holes in her shoes. Her wedding dress was borrowed and a color she hated. She’d eaten the last frankfurter in the fridge for breakfast. And she was pregnant. Yes, she loved her new husband, but she was also angry at him for his part in getting her into this pickle. And, of course, she was angry at herself. She even admitted being angry at God.
Usually, we tend to write the truth in draft #1. Then, if we’re determined to make what we’re writing as good as it can possibly be, we start as we revise trying to tell the whole truth. And, as we do, our writing becomes more interesting, more compelling, more dramatic, and often funnier.
*** Working with people who are writing about their own lives is, for me, one of the most interesting and rewarding parts of being a writing coach.
They are often in a process of self-discovery that can be very valuable for them. And they are often creating a gift for their children and grand children that, in my opinion, is the most important gift they can give.
If you are interested in learning more about Roy or any of his online writing workshops, visit him at www.RoySorrels.com.