Friday, March 4, 2011

Are Fiction Writers Liars or Reporters?

When I'm writing fiction, I often think I'm recording the events that are happening before my eyes. I noticed today, though, that when I'm doing this, I'm looking up and to the right (my right).

Through my association with Killer Nashville ( with the guys from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), I know that they look at eye movement as an indicator of whether or not someone is telling the truth.

So the philosophical question for me is that when you write fiction are you being truthful and recording what you see, or are you making it up as you go along. Well, my eyes consistently go up and to the right.

I looked several places and the answer came back consistently: Looking up and to the right (the speaker's right - your left) is a sign that someone is creating visual images (translated lying). I found it especially interesting that this eye position changes when you're writing dialogue. All this doesn't make a hill of beans in terms of the quality of your writing, but it is rather interesting when you're stuck on a paragraph and need something to do other than check your email.

A great concise breakdown is here ( if you have an interest in learning more.

I'd be curious to know if nonfiction writers look to the right or left as they write. It would certainly be telling as to how they are interpreting the data they are using for reference. :o)