Tips for Writers: Always Tell the Truth, Even When You’re Lying

Mitch Teemley

'Vintage Words' by Thom Milkovic (unsplash.com)
Photo by Thom Milkovic

Most of us are familiar with the Blind Men and the Elephant story. Its point is twofold:

  • No one has a complete picture, even if they were “there in person,” but…
  • Everyone knows what they think happened, and what it meant to them

This is true in both fiction and non-fiction.

True, journalists, as non-fiction writers, are supposed to render facts as objectively as they can. But honest, objective fact-finders know that even after interviewing eyewitnesses (“blind men”) their summary will inevitably fall short of “complete.” Hence, “rioting occurred” is more accurate than “the protest turned into a riot” (did everyone riot? Were there no objectors?). And “many wept” is more accurate than “there wasn’t a dry eye in the audience” (did no one roll their eyes and visit the loo?). There’s no such thing as a complete picture, and so, in essence, there’s no such…

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