To Truth or Not to Truth that is Fandango’s Provocative Question
“How do you feel about people who always seem to exaggerate when relating a story? Do you equate embellishment with lying? As a blogger, when, if ever, is stretching the truth, other than when writing fiction, permissible?”
Hmmmm, well, to quote Geoff Chaucer (as played by Paul Bettany in A Knights Tale) “I’m a writer, it’s what I do, I give the truth scope.” I think to one degree or another most people “exaggerate” when relating a story. How much of that is intentional and how much is relevant to their particular memory, I would not presume to say. It’s all about the story. To me it will always be about the story. “Exaggerations” that do not alter the intent of a story don’t bother me. They don’t change the basic truth.
“I turned around and came face to face with Dirty Harry holding a big ass gun to my head. There was a struggle, I dropped and the bullet hit the wall just inches from my head.” – That’s the story.
“I turned around and saw that the a**hat I was married to was pointing a 22 caliber revolver at my forehead. I jumped, stumbled, grabbed for the gun and fell. The bullet lodged in the wall a foot and a half from my head.” – That’s the facts.
Thing is, they’re both true just a matter of how the story is told. The “big ass gun” is not an exaggeration, just an opinion. I can tell you a 22 pointed at your head looks HUGE! “Inches from my head” well that’s totally true, it was in fact 18 inches.
The fish was “THIS BIG” we’ve all heard that one and we mostly know that the fish was probably not all that big but the size of the fish doesn’t really impact the truth of the story, it’s about the size of the accomplishment (to the one telling the story). Guy caught a big fish and he was happy and excited about it.
IMHO, exaggeration is kind of like salt. Although too much can make a story unpalatable, not enough can leave it bland. As for when is “stretching the truth” permissible? Any time it is done for “literary embellishment” or just reflects a story rather than hard fact (let’s face it hard facts can be pretty darned dull try reading a technical manual sometime). It’s easier for me to say when it’s NOT OK to stretch the truth, that is when it’s plagiarism, or when it’s done with malice. That’s it from me.
Til next time ~Peace and a really well embellished tale ~JPP 😉