Tag Archive - Autobiography

Telling the Truth, But Not Quite! The Autobiographical Novel

Today’s guest post is by ghostwriter Barry Fox.

It’s a common problem. You’re eagerly writing the story of your life from beginning to end when suddenly you get to that jerk you’d love to omit—you know, the ex-spouse from hell, maybe the sibling you haven’t spoken to in decades, or some other diabolical character.

You don’t even want to think about this loser, let alone write about him. Why open old wounds? Or you might worry that if you tell the truth about him you’ll hurt others, or maybe get slapped with a lawsuit.

Then there are the embarrassing “What was I thinking?!” moments in your life that you’d like to scrub from your story. Or maybe your life is somewhat convoluted and hard to follow; too many people, places, events, and other things to cover. You’d like to simplify things to make it an easier, more interesting read.

As a ghostwriter, I’ve been faced with this problem more than once. One of my clients requested just “a little adjustment” in her autobiography—meaning she wanted to leave out husbands number two and three. Another client, a man who’d had a lengthy relationship with a business partner, regaled me with stories of what a jerk the partner was—and that was when he was sober. When drunk, the guy could be a real terror. This drunk’s bad behavior seriously affected my client’s business and life, but the client insisted that I totally whitewash this bozo in the book. Continue Reading…

Memoir or Novel—Should You Fictionalize Your Life?

Today’s post is by David Berner.

Ernest Hemingway did it with The Sun Also Rises. Jack Kerouac did it with On the Road. Nora Ephron did it with Heartburn. Carrie Fischer did it with Postcards from the Edge. And Tim O’Brien did it with one of the most celebrated books in the last thirty years, The Things They Carried.

Each of these and many others not mentioned here are of the genre that’s come to be categorized as autobiographical fiction.

These are novels in the broadest sense of the word but based on hard truths, some more full of facts than others, and some so close to the truth they could be labeled memoir.

O’Brien’s Pulitzer Prize finalist is based on his time spent serving in the Vietnam War, but the author has always been quick to remind us that the book is not memoir. He has admitted some of the stories are completely made up. Still, he argues that the untruths in The Things They Carried are many times truer than the real thing. Continue Reading…