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Dutchess_III's avatar

How does one make a piece of writing "read like fiction," especially if it's a true story, say, of a kid getting stuck in a mailbox?

Asked by Dutchess_III (42477points) September 4th, 2015

I’m looking through some writing competitions. One looks especially promising. It’s called Family Matters, a contest through Glimmer Train. It specifies, “We are looking for stories about families of all configurations.
It’s fine to draw heavily on real life experiences, but the work must read like fiction.

What, exactly, does that mean?

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9 Answers

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

They want a story, not a report. Think sitting around the campfire telling a story about the time your horse threw you,versus the list of facts you related to your doctor afterwards. The story will involve a setup, possibly peripheral and primary circumstances, then the punch. It might end with a resolution. It could be comedic, dramatic or tragic—or all three in different parts. The story could wax philosophical. The doc wouldn’t get any of that. Your story is more interesting, even if it incorporates the dry report to the doctor.

Mimishu1995's avatar

I agree with @Espiritus_Corvus. They want emotion in the story. You can tell anything, but you have to make your reader feel.

“I looked out to the window thinking about my life” That’s a fact.

“I looked out to the window. It was raining heavily. Listening to the sound of the dropping water, that memory of that day came back to me. I had there, standing in the rain, at that very time.” That’s what they want.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I see. That makes perfect sense. And…it’s what I do, anyway. My stories are true stories, but I may embellish here and there, while keeping true to what really happened.


Pachy's avatar

Re-read @Espiritus_Corvus‘s excellent advice and what the Family Matters site itself says and I think you’ve got your answer:

Remember that sticking too tightly to “fact” can limit the larger truth that fiction is able to reveal. Give your story the leeway it needs in order to find its own life. And, if your story is closely related to your actual experience, it is wise to change details that would allow the real-life people to say, Hey, that’s me!

And good luck with your project!

kritiper's avatar

Write it in a matter-of-fact way, like a non-involved witness.

longgone's avatar

If you tell that story the way you usually tell stories on here, you should be fine. Almost all your “family reports” read like stories.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Pachy I did. Thanks.

@longgone, thanks! Very much.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@kritiper That would be more like writing a dry report, not fiction. Fiction is usually much more interesting than mere reports.

kritiper's avatar

@Dutchess_III I didn’t mean a report, like the stagnant “who, what, when, where, and why, only an alternate POV. Use your imagination!!!

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