Saturday, 8 March 2014

How much is too much?

As writers we are often faced with the tough decision of giving out too much information and withholding some. The question is how much is too much information in a memoir for instance? This is considering that the book goes into the public's scrutiny and you have people involved in your story that you would like to protect. These are your family members, past acquaintances or even enemies you have encountered in your journey.
The first thing that you have to do is stay focused. What is your story about and what themes do you want to bring out? If you had an experience that you think may be interesting and you are tempted to add it in your book, you might want to consider if it builds into your theme.
Winnie Thuku, author of broken to be made whole says, “Some stories just water down the purpose of the book. You do not want to create conflict by opening a can of worms you are not able to deal with.” In her book, she writes of her experience having had a still birth and a near death experience. She focuses on the lessons learnt from that experience and does not mention other people who are not relevant in her story.
If there’s an experience which builds up to the book or story, then tell it wisely and protect the persons involved. Remember to stick to your goal whether informing, educating or entertaining. You do not want to appear petty in your writing. The best thing is to have someone go through your piece and accept their honest opinion on it. Take positive criticisms well and improve your work.
I am saying this because over the past few weeks I have been pondering on this question. It is my desire to get published soon, and I have been doing a lot of reviewing and rewriting. The working titles of the piece are “Scars for healing”, or “Wounded to heal”. I have not had much review by other people, but out of the self reviews, I feel that I need to change a lot.
Something that might help as writers ponder over these questions is the reaction of the subjects in your writing when they read it. Remember, if you decide that your life is an open book, not everyone else around you also shares your sentiments. Consult them on whether they are comfortable with the book getting released with them featuring as part of it. You should consider rephrasing your approach or even changing their names. Many authors have a disclaimer at the beginning of books- The names of characters in this book have been changed to protect their identity.
Thanks to the creative academy at Daystar University, for writers by writers. This is where you get to think critically about such issues and develop into a seasoned writer. Welcome next Saturday from 8-11 a.m. for yet another interesting session. It is open to the public for a fee of 500 shillings.

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