Tell the Truth

Two things happened over my Easter weekend. I went to Eastercon and had a bloody good time with members of The Speculators writing group as well as a number of friends old and new. And I read On Writing by Stephen King.

I don’t think On Writing is a flawless essay on the art and craft of fiction. Firstly, there is no such thing and secondly, King is a particular kind of writer. An animist, a writer who creates from the raw stuff of life and imagination. Much of King’s advice could be phrased as ‘how to release and channel your inner animist’. With that in mind, it is a guide I would highly recommend to anyone who has recently been through the mill of an English Literature course of study or has otherwise lost the original creative spark of their writing through over examination.

The phrase that has absolutely lodged in the front of my brain from On Writing is ‘Tell the Truth’. This is King’s take on the old adage ‘Write what you know’, advice that King sees as limiting(especially for science fiction writers wanting to describe alien worlds!) Telling the truth means finding the truth in the story you are writing, whatever it may be. Look at what you are writing and ask, is this true? Why write at all, if not to tell the truth?

I like the idea so much that I’ve written it across the upper edge of my laptop, so its the first thing I see whenever I start to write.

A few true things:

The Shine anthology is available to buy. It has a quote from me on the back, so it must be good.

China Mieville may be about to make a clean sweep of almost every major award in SF. What are the odds do you think?


Published by Damien Walter

Writer and storyteller. Contributor to The Guardian, Independent, BBC, Wired, Buzzfeed and Aeon magazine. Special forces librarian (retired). Teaches the Rhetoric of Story to over 35,000 students worldwide.

2 thoughts on “Tell the Truth


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s