Friday, April 19, 2013

How Accurate Is the Dialog? (Part 3 of 3)

In writing dialog in nonfiction, we tend to re-interpret events in our lives. The more often we tell an incident, the more it changes—and it's not intentional.

For instance, I've heard many stories of drastic changes in lives. If I hear an account shortly after a powerful experience, the narrative is raw, as if the individuals are reliving it. After they've told the story 43 times, the story changes in small, subtle ways.

I think of it this way: They have learned life lessons and unconsciously meshed them with the dramatic experience.

As we tell our stories, our minds interpret and reinterpret. Our memories are selective and distorting. There's no cure and no excuse. That's how we're made.

Here's one way that helped me understand this principle. I've journaled for years. A few times I've gone back to read something I wrote within hours after the events. Five years later, there were things I wrote that I absolutely didn't remember happening or I was positive happened a little differently. My journal says otherwise.

Here's a quotation from my journal, and I didn't cite the source: "We read our past like a book out of which many pages have been torn and some mutilated."

When I write about my experience, 
I try to write honestly, knowing that my memory is faulty.

No comments:

Post a Comment

What are your thoughts?