1. LeeBookProject
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    LeeBookProject Member

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    I feel dishonest when delaying information...

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by LeeBookProject, Apr 6, 2015.

    Hi,

    I have been developing a narrative for my own life experiences and my goals are:-

    1. to help the reader feel what I felt
    2. to help the reader want to read the next chapter

    So, to accomplish this I have started to exclude or not tell the whole truth about an event and perhaps move it forward regarding the missing info.

    This though is making me feel dishonest e.g.: not portraying something as it happened (in detail) which is what I would like to do. I wanted to ask for the forum, do writers do this when writing about their own stories?

    Thanks

    Lee
     
  2. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    There is a term for this in literature: Unreliable Narrator.

    There are many reasons the narrator of a story may not be 100% forthcoming or truthful in the telling of a tale. Follow the link for some further details. :)
     
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  3. wellthatsnice
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    wellthatsnice Active Member

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    In this type of narrative you are a story teller, and a story teller needs to know how to provide information at the proper time to keep interest up.

    Its the same thing that you see with a good joke. Its not being dishonest, its setup for a punchline.

    That said, omitting information to be revealed at a later time is interesting, omitting information that substantially changes the facts of what happened is lying.
     
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  4. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is meant to be a memoir, or some other form of non-fiction?

    If so, I can see you delaying the reveal, but I think you're expected to always tell the truth.

    Maybe I'm misunderstanding. Are you presenting the story as truth or fiction?
     
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  5. sprirj
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    sprirj Contributing Member

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    I'd try to be honest with the reader if it helps you. If you want to withhold info, tell the reader you are doing that, and why you are. That may enhance the reason for the reader to keep turning pages.
     
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  6. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    I am not sure what you are writing here (it sounds like a memoir), but I am going to answer in terms of fiction. When a fact that the POV character would be aware of is withheld from me as a reader, there generally needs to be a very good reason or it will result in frustration or a feeling that the author is cheating because they were too lazy or inept to plot their work properly. An example, which is quite an exaggerated, yet also a quite common example, is in mysteries where the detective reveals a fact that led them to the murderer in the closing scenes, but it wasn't revealed to the reader. To me this is the equivalent of the author raising two fingers to their entire audience.
     
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  7. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I agree with @Chinspinner about a POV character not revealing what the character knows, especially if it's important. It's a difficult thing to work, and if you get it wrong, people can feel very cheated. However, I have seen it done admirably well in fiction. I remember a book called Nina Todd Has Gone, by the Scottish writer Lesley Glaister, that did just that. She created a startling revelation at the end that turned the story on its head, and yet it worked. If you can present your story as the narrator 'telling' somebody else a story, rather than as the narrator actually experiencing the story, then lies and withheld information are perfectly plausible.
     
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  8. NiallRoach
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    NiallRoach Contributing Member

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    I think it's worth pointing out that it's not always as simple as whether or not the POV character knows something; we all know lots of things that don't come up in conversation under basically any circumstances.
    If it's important and the POV character both knows it, and that it's relevant, then there's little excuse for not letting the reader in on it. If it's important, but the POV character has no reason to think about it because it's so insignificant in their mind, you can get away with it a little more.
     
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  9. LeeBookProject
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    LeeBookProject Member

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    Thanks Wreybies, I will read some more about this writing method.
     
  10. LeeBookProject
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    LeeBookProject Member

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    Thanks wellthatsnice, it doesn't change any facts, if I delay telling a reader the type of specialist I was speaking to or everything I said to him in my story then this will prevent me from using some chapter turning techniques.

    I think there is another underying writing goal I need to decide. Do I want someone to pick up my story knowing whats it's about or do I want someone to pickup my story not knowing but willing to find out and following/discovering my journey. I was leaning towards the 'finding out and following/discovering my story' which has in turn lead me to creating this post. Apologies if I seem 'all over the place', it's just that I am learning while I am writing.
     
  11. LeeBookProject
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    LeeBookProject Member

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    Hello BayView & thanks, yes this writing is focused on certain aspects of my life , so yes it's a memoir. I am also presenting it as the truth. I would always tell the truth in my story but I supposed the order of reveal does not feel like the truth while I am writing, but I do understand a bit more about the Unreliable Narrator.
     
  12. LeeBookProject
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    LeeBookProject Member

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    Thanks sprirj, that sounds interesting about telling the reader why I am withholding information. I will think about this some more.
     
  13. LeeBookProject
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    LeeBookProject Member

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    thanks chinspinner, yes it's a memoir, that's is interesting what you are saying. Also I am telling the truth throughout, delaying information on why/how I went on this 'journey' may either make the reader frustrated or possibly intrigued?
     
  14. LeeBookProject
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    LeeBookProject Member

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    thanks jannrt, I am telling the story through my experiences, I think from the feedback here narrows my scope about being an Unreliable Narrator. sprirj's approach may be a possible solution.
     
  15. LeeBookProject
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    LeeBookProject Member

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    Thanks NiallRoach, the info I planned to delay is important to my story and how I was feeling at the time. I don't think I can justify withholding it, after reading your reply. I seem to be having a struggle between page turning techniques and justifying withholding information for a while, which would in turn deflate what I was writing about earlier on.
     
  16. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't know about for one's own story - but for fiction it's absolutely necessary, so for autobiographical stuff it could certainly work if if serves the narrative.

    The question is what you want the reader to feel and when.
     
  17. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Can you tell the story from the perspective of what you knew AT THE TIME, not what you know now? That would probably solve the problem? If you want people to feel what you felt, you'll probably need to give them the information you had at the time. But there is no need to give the whole truth if you didn't know it then.
     
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  18. LeeBookProject
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    LeeBookProject Member

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    Thanks jannert, I will try that. Thanks to everybody who has helped me on this thread.

    Lee
     

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