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Fiction vs. Memoir Editing: For Editors and Writers

 Editing a memoir versus editing fiction involves unique considerations due to the distinct nature of the genres. Though I agree that the best memoirs read like fiction, in practice, that advice can only take you so far. 

Here's a list outlining some key differences:

  1. Factual Accuracy: Memoirs are based on real events and experiences from the author's life, while fiction is entirely made up. Therefore, in memoir editing, it's crucial to ensure factual accuracy, corroborating events, timelines, and details. In fiction editing, the focus is on consistency within the fictional world created by the author.
  2. Emotional Authenticity: Memoirs often delve deeply into the author's emotions and personal growth, requiring sensitivity from the editor to preserve the authenticity of these experiences. Fiction, while it may also explore emotions, allows for more creative liberty in depicting them.
  3. Narrative Structure: Memoirs typically follow a chronological or thematic structure, reflecting the author's life journey or a specific period. Fiction, on the other hand, can employ various narrative structures, including linear, nonlinear, or experimental formats.
  4. Character Development: In memoirs, the characters are real people, including the author themselves and others in their life. Editing involves ensuring consistency in characterization and portraying individuals accurately. In fiction, character development may involve creating complex, multi-dimensional characters from scratch.
  5. Voice and Tone: Memoirs often reflect the author's unique voice and perspective, capturing their personal style of storytelling. Editors must preserve this voice while ensuring clarity and coherence. In fiction, the author crafts distinct voices for each character and establishes the tone of the narrative to suit the story's genre and themes.
  6. Ethical Considerations: Memoirs may involve delicate ethical considerations, especially when depicting real people or sensitive events. Editors must navigate these issues with care, respecting the privacy and feelings of individuals portrayed. Fiction offers more freedom in exploring controversial or challenging subjects without the same ethical constraints.
  7. Dialogue and Setting: While both memoirs and fiction can include dialogue and vivid settings, memoir editing may involve verifying dialogue based on memory or reconstructing settings to accurately reflect the author's recollection. In fiction, dialogue and settings are entirely invented by the author and subject to their creative control.
  8. Ending and Resolution: Memoirs often conclude with reflections on lessons learned or personal growth achieved, providing a sense of closure to the author's journey. Fictional narratives may have various types of endings, such as open-ended conclusions or unexpected twists, depending on the genre and author's intent.

In summary, editing memoirs and fiction requires different approaches due to their distinct content, structure, and ethical considerations. While memoir editing focuses on preserving factual accuracy and emotional authenticity, fiction editing involves enhancing narrative coherence, character development, and creative storytelling elements.

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Sunday, 14 July 2024

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