Our newest writing tip comes from LoRee Peery, one of our contributing authors here at A Pen for Your Thoughts, who pours out her heart to show you just how a fiction story can bring impact on your reader. I think you will agree, she knows how to accomplish an important element needed to bring forth life into our story writing.
On Writing a Fictional Memoir
By LoRee Peery
“Write what you know” is often the first advice a writer hears.
My WIP this year has been a fictional memoir, which fits in the genre of women’s fiction. It has not been easy dredging up the memories; what I think I’ve “known” concerning the tons of speculation surrounding the unsolved homicide of my father.
Facing the emotion I’ve buried and resurrected time and again over the years was a challenge at first. I felt stuck, as though I was going around in circles more than once. The fictional characters didn’t seem “real” until I took a couple days to collage the characters and story into a scrapbook. I needed that tactile exercise.
I finally got caught up in creating a story where the characters took over, and the Lord enabled me to see events unfold through the eyes of fiction rather than my emotional memories. Along the journey, God spoke to me through His love letter (the Bible) to His children, and I treasure more than ever the path He has chosen for me.
Writing about the cold case caused me to think about how much truth I can reveal. But who’s truth? The story is my perspective, so it’s my truth. And if any of us has been around for awhile, we’ve realized that whatever we write, or see, is viewed from an individual perspective. It’s the idea that men and women see things differently. Two witnesses to the same accident, or a crime, have separate take-aways from the incident.
I don’t think I can write fiction without injecting something of real life into the story. While writing Moselle’s Insurance, flashes of my first broken heart filtered in. We have a boy with autism in the family, so coming up with Mia’s character in Rainn on My Parade wasn’t difficult. And I witnessed a scene of cruelty between a mother and her little girl in a store, the same as Geneva “saw” in that story.
The fictitious acreage in Sage and Sweetgrass was sparked by some acres that my husband and I once considered buying. I’ve camped in the woods, so coming up with a fear of a bogeyman in the dark, and a make believe cabin for Found in the Woods wasn’t hard either.
For those of us who write nonfiction, we have faulty memories when it comes to the real words spoken through conversation. Our real everyday conversations don’t read very well on the page. Fictitious words, therefore, can be sprinkled into our nonfiction for the purpose of story, through dialogue. So, even when we’re telling what we believe is the truth, we embellish with what’s made up.
My family is extensive. In telling this tale I had to deal with wondering what I dare expose, or whose toes I may step on. Even though it’s presented as fiction, readers who know my family may wonder who is who in real life.
I have peace in the knowledge I have not exposed anyone with intent to harm. I have peace knowing I was compelled to tell this story that changed so many lives. I have peace this challenge was on the path of completing who I am. I have peace in the belief the Lord will choose every one who reads my story. And I have peace in believing the only real, authentic truth of anything we question in life, is known only to God.
I’ll end with a quote from Anne Lamott in bird by bird: “To have written your version is an honorable thing to have done.”
My question for readers is this. Do you have a nagging memory that will not leave you alone? It may be meant for exploration on the page.
c 2011 LoRee Peery