1. AHewlett
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    AHewlett Member

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    Fictional Autobiography - is it a good idea?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by AHewlett, Jul 20, 2012.

    Autobiography for a fictional character - is it a good idea?

    I was thinking of writing an autobiography for a fictional character of mine and I was doing some research on the internet, where I came across 'fictional autobiography' on Wikipedia. I did some more research and it seems not many authors are against it, even though David Copperfield is an fictional autobiography.

    So, what are everyone's views on it? Pros and cons?

    Thanks!

    Edit - Though I would add what Wikipedia have explained about it (whether their right or not).

     
  2. AmyHolt
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    AmyHolt Contributing Member

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    Fictional Autobiography = oxymoron
    It's not an autobiography if it's fiction. I suppose you could write fiction stories based on someone's life like a movie based on a true event. It would be okay I guess (meaning it could make a fun story to read, if it was done well). But unless I was trying to be funny I wouldn't call it a fictional autobiography.
     
  3. Thumpalumpacus
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    Thumpalumpacus Contributing Member

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    I think it's an interesting approach to writing. I like 1P PoV because it imparts an immediacy for both me as the writer, and the reader as well. I could see it working.

    Amy, the idea is: imagine a protagonist. Now, imagine the protagonist writes his or her autobiography. No one is asserting that the autobiography is actually real. Like all other fiction, it is an act of imagination, with a peculiar set of defining limitations. It's the personal analogue of the fantasy writer's fictional "history" of his or her world.
     
  4. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Why would anybody be against fictional autobiography? Go ahead and write it.

    I don't understand why, but it seems there are lots of writers and would-be writers who mentally set up completely arbitrary roadblocks for themselves. They're reluctant to write something because they think there's some kind of "rule" against it, when any such rules are entirely imaginary. You can write whatever you want, so long as you stop getting in your own way.
     
  5. AHewlett
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    AHewlett Member

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    Thanks guys for replying!

    I don't know why some writers would be against it, like I said, David Copperfield is a fine example of a fictional character writing his autobiography. Personally, it would be easier to explore a character and their world even if it would be from their point of view....plus, I think it would be slightly easier than writing a novel but that's just me :)
     
  6. DeepBlue10055
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    It's merely another way of telling your protagonist's story. You get the same tale across, but because the story is being told by a perhaps older and wiser character, there could be insights and opinions present that would differ from if the story were told in a more common, immediate style.
     
  7. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Um, a fictional autobiography would still be a novel. It might be a slightly easier way to write a novel... maybe.
     
  8. AmyHolt
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    AmyHolt Contributing Member

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    Ohhh, well I can check learn something new off my list for today. It seemed like a very odd idea related to a real person but related to a protagonist it makes perfect sense. :)
     
  9. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    A fictional autobiography is just a first-person novel that covers a substantial portion of the main character' life, right? I'm failing to see how a blanket objection to that idea could be supported. Sure, they might tend to be meandering and old-fashioned, but they don't need to be.
     
  10. jane elliot
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    jane elliot Member

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    Yeah, why would anyone object to a first-person narrative? I don't understand what the problem is.
     
  11. AHewlett
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    AHewlett Member

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    Thanks for all the replies! I don't know what the problem would be but I've read on the internet that some authors and readers just don't like it. I think it's a great idea as you can explore your character a bit more than just writing down the basics.

    Can't wait to give it a go.
     
  12. Thumpalumpacus
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    Thumpalumpacus Contributing Member

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    The thought occurs to me that even if you try it and don't like the results, you will have a great background for a character in a conventionally-written book, and perhaps useful story elements as well.
     
  13. AHewlett
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    AHewlett Member

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    Exactly what I thought. It's basically a character exercise in a way
     
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  14. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I think one reason some might not like it is that a whole life story doesn't naturally follow a nice, tight, modern story structure, with a single arc, a single "hero journey" or the like. A human life consists of lots of same-old-same-old down time, interspersed with an occasional plot thread here and there. It is unlikely that there will be a coherent, unifying thread bringing unity to the entire life. So a fictional autobiography would be very episodic, and that isn't in fashion these days, at least in the USA. In Dickens' day such a novel would be welcome, but we have MTV attention spans now, and we just can't take it. At least, some people might think that.
     
  15. Scott Berman
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    I think it's a very interesting idea, and being that it isn't common would give it a little added originality. While not the same, Chuck Palahniuk's "Rant" was an oral biography and it was really the last book by him that I actually enjoyed. It could make a character feel really personal. I would say that it wouldn't be so great if it were the main character of another story, isn't the other story already a part of their biography already? However, an autobiography of a lovable minor character could be really fun, sort of like how Rosencrantz and Guildenstern from Hamlet were minor characters that were given their own story.
     
  16. AHewlett
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    AHewlett Member

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    This is probably a downside, but there hasn't been a novel or story written about my character. I wanted to see if I could create a complete fictional autobiography for her or a diary of some sort, but the fictional autobiography has won at the moment.
     
  17. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, you weren't intending to write a fictional autobiography about someone else's character, were you? So how is having a completely original character a downside? Writers do it all the time.
     
  18. B93
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    An autobiography of a fictional person (and not someone else's character) would be fine if that's the best way to present the story. Try some of it and see if that is what works best, and don't worry about the label.

    A fictional autobiography of someone you didn't make up yourself is a very bad idea.
     

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