Fictional Autobiography and Autobiographical Novel
I describe the genre of writing that I use as being inspirational fiction, but I do realize where some readers and even other authors do not understand this and have confused my works as being non-fiction. Non-fiction is factual information. My published novels have utilized the techniques of autobiographical novel and fictional autobiography, which are both different from non-fiction. I explain these techniques as follows.
My second novel You Can Rise Up is published with the sub-title “A fictional autobiography of Carla Henderson”. Over the years I’ve come to realize that many persons do not understand this concept.
The first misunderstandings I picked up on was when the TV hosts would ask me questions or make statements that suggested that the book was based on the lives of two girls I knew, most likely comparing the two female characters in the book with the lives of two girls I knew personally. The book is inspired based on the “personalities” of persons I know personally, as I describe in the Preface to the book. Naturally, we do borrow aspects from reality even when writing fiction, but these characters and their chain of events and experiences are fictional. There are essentially three main characters, a male and female who exhibit troubled, dysfunctional personalities, and another female who by contrast exhibits a contrast in personality, being more settled and focused. The book is written in the first person, through the voice of a fictional character, who is telling her life story.
What I’ve described above is what is regarded as “Fictional Autobiography”. The online encyclopedia Wikipedia defines this term exactly as I intend it.
The term “fictional autobiography” signifies novels about a fictional character written as though the character were writing their own autobiography, meaning that the character is the first-person narrator and that the novel addresses both internal and external experiences of the character.
Precisely. The main character within the book, Carla Henderson, is a fictional character who is telling her story, her autobiography.
Wikipedia also gives examples of some fictional autobiographies, such as Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield, and Charlotte Bronte‘s Jane Eyre. If you are familiar with those books you may get an even clearer understanding.
It was after a recent conversation when once again someone made reference to my novels in a non-fiction light, that it hit me directly that there is absolutely some confusion here, and I should try to end this confusion. To that end, I am writing this article, and may even go a step further by getting rid of the sub-title from You Can Rise Up. I do notice that in the examples provided by Wikipedia, there was no mention of the words “fictional autobiography” on each book’s cover, even though that is in fact what these books were. Interestingly enough, it is mentioned that in the original edition of Jane Eyre, there were the words “An Autobiography”, but this was subsequently removed. So I imagine that use of those words had caused confusion with that novel also.
An autobiographical novel is a form of novel using autofiction techniques, or the merging of autobiographical and fictive elements. The literary technique is distinguished from an autobiography or memoir by the stipulation of being fiction. Because an autobiographical novel is partially fiction, the author does not ask the reader to expect the text to fulfill the “autobiographical pact”. Names and locations are often changed and events are recreated to make them more dramatic but the story still bears a close resemblance to that of the author’s life. While the events of the author’s life are recounted, there is no pretense of exact truth. Events may be exaggerated or altered for artistic or thematic purposes.
Perfect explanation and befitting Let My Soul Bare, which I clearly describe as being partly based on the life of the author. And as the above definition explains, it is partially fiction, therefore it is also not my autobiography. It is not fully/completely the story of my life, but rather, bares a close resemblance. But is also fictional because names, locations and events have been changed and recreated to make the story more dramatic.
So, it is actually not accurate to describe any of my two books as being “non-fiction” works. But I have learned a valuable lesson in this process, that not every one will be familiar with the various literary techniques, so as the author I need to take the necessary steps in presenting my material as clearly as possible in the title of my books and any public relations/marketing efforts. Going forward I intend to do exactly that. I hope this article clarifies a lot for my readers.