Monday Motivation: A short meditation on truth
We’ve often quoted a guru who urged writers to use details that were “specific, accurate and honest”. The use of that last adjective has always puzzled me. How can a detail be “honest”? I’ve come to see that honesty in this context probably means “authentic”. An authentic detail is one that conforms to the truth. And the truth in this instance surely means, the internal truth of the world created by the writer and of the characters that inhabit it.
There is something intensely satisfying about recognising in a story what you know to be psychologically, or culturally, or sociologically true. When a writer identifies, for instance, that unique mix of anxiety, delight, terror and appetite in a teenager in love for the first time, you experience a thrill of memory.
But to find these “specific, accurate, honest” details is not the work of a minute. Cliches spring instantly to mind. What I’m talking about here demands rigour and the willingness to reveal your own vulnerabilities.
And that’s what I’m suggesting we all commit ourselves to doing: dodge the obvious to reveal the often surprising, although familiar, truth that lies at the heart of all good writing, whatever the genre.
PS – I’d love to hear what you think. Let me know in the comments section.