ACW

ACW

Friday, 8 September 2017

'To be honest' by Annie Try

My ears went into super listening mode - my friend had said 'to be honest . . .'  The phrase was followed by tears and a pouring out of her very real feelings.  A time of truth rather than wearing the mask that Mari Howard wrote about in this blog a few days ago.

'To be honest' is a strange phrase that always alerts me to the fact that we aren't always completely honest.  Sometimes the phrase itself is an effort to hide the truth, to reinforce a monstrous lie, which is often plain to see, or if followed by 'I think' it could be a not-very-savoury opinion, thrown into a discussion to disrupt.

It is a gift to the writer who can use it in either way or both, perhaps appearing to make a character seem virtuous when the plot reveals later that all that seems 'honest' is not true.  There are other phrases that serve a similar purpose, 'in actual fact', 'truthfully speaking', 'to tell the truth'.  I think my favourite is the more tentative 'If I were to be honest . . .'  It immediately flags up that the speaker isn't usually.

But how honest should we be? That's a strange question to ask Christians and I would expect the answer 'totally' but we all know there are times to soften bad news, add gentleness to a difficult truth. Is that total honesty? The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?

And here's an interesting thought: can a writer of fiction be excused from making something up? Some Christians won't read fiction, seeing it as lying.  Is a fictional story any better than a child inventing a lie to keep himself out of trouble?  Honestly, I don't know (!)

But this I do know.  There is only one person without sin, and that is Jesus Christ.  So when he says, 'Truly, truly I say unto you,' I listen - along with the crowds who followed him when he first said those words.  And I believe the truth behind his stories - the parables showing forgiveness, love and justice.

So there we have it - the key to knowing how that phrase is used.  If the person or character is honest, then the phrase is likely to be true.  If we don't trust the person or character, we look for the lie.

And I believe that through my fiction, I must make known His truths.










Annie Try (Angela Hobday) lives and writes in rural Norfolk and is engaged in making up the Dr Mike Lewis Stories.  Trying to Fly was published in February and Out of Silence will be released on 15th September 2017.  She is Chair of ACW.

12 comments:

  1. Blimey, this is brilliant! Hit me straight between the eyes, to be honest...

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  2. Yeah, I agree with Janey. This is brilliant Angela. Thanks! And I must relook at my own use of 'to be honest'....

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  3. I've often thought, when I or others use the phrase, what an odd expression it is. But I've never thought about it in relation to writing. Thought provoking post. Thank you.

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    1. You can have great fun with protagonists who deceive, but sometimes it even ties the writer up in knots!

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  4. Such a tricky area! When it comes to writing, I often see famous writers recommending that fiction isn't sincere unless you're really putting yourself out there, telling hard truths, and being completely real about how things are, even though others may object. I guess that leads to authenticity. I've tried to follow the principle more lately but I'm not sure if I'm achieving it.

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    1. I think the truth we are trying to portray through fiction has to be put over in an accessible way or the reader will simply close the book.

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  5. Very interesting. I have just returned from the funeral of a dear Christian friend, whose daughters did not want hymns, prayers, or anything else to do with Christianity. Her second husband is also a Christian. Her children are very anti, and although the husband was able to invite our vicar to lead the proceedings, the 'service' was very secular, and in some ways saddening, and even shocking, to the Christian friends gathered there. At the end 2nd husband said to me, 'What a wonderful service, wasn't it?' For him, hearing what a special person his wife had been, it was wonderful. To me the service was not wonderful. But I could not say so. I agreed with him, because it seemed the right thing to do. I still see myself as an honest person.

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    1. You thought about him, rather than giving your opinion. I think you are still an honest person.

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  6. I believe 'truth' is more than literal exactitude or correct verbal formulae. Its original meaning is 'faithfulness' and I think that's what it essentially is.

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