Thursday, October 20, 2011

Compelled to Write a Story that Could Change a Life

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


  1. Thank you, Shirley, for putting some more of my words out there. I appreciate you and your time.

  2. LoRee, I admire your courage in taking on this fictional memoir. In my book, Goldeneyes, I used the setting of the little farming community I grew up in - Weedpatch, CA. But, like you, I hit a place where fictionalizing Weedpatch just became almost impossible. I was stuck for months! Finally had to lay it aside and write another book. When I came back to Goldeneyes, God gave me the freedom to write it. Sometimes it's all in the timing, I guess. God had something else for me to do before the time was right for this book. Who can know the mind of God? :)

    I look forward to reading your memoir!

  3. Delia, as you know, any courage comes from our Lord. We are like-minded.
    Cheryl, thanks for taking the time to stop.

  4. Great post, LoRee. Dredging up those memories took courage and plenty of tissues, I'm sure. I look forward to reading it. Thanks for sharing, LoRee.

  5. I'm pleased you stopped by, Dora. After a time, the tissues give way to just kind of an unsettled feeling. But faith isn't based on feelings. So a hymn of praise, or a special verse, is all it takes to focus on Him.

  6. I really liked your post. I have a background in abuse and have had many memories that I have had to deal with. I have found dealing with them in the stories I write helps to free me of them.

    Glenda Parker

  7. Wonderful post LoRee! Wow, sounds like a great book too.

    Good luck & God's blessings.

  8. Great post, LoRee - heart wrenching for sure, but God is using your writing gift, and the circumstances of your life, to create something He ordains, that will touch lives for sure! God bless!!!

  9. LoRee, I admire your ability to take such a difficult event from your life and turn it into something good. I pray God will continue to bless you and will bless many others through your fictional memoir.

  10. Glenda, thank you for being open. We do indeed have to face our pasts before we can look to the future. When it comes out in writing it can work in the lives of others.
    Thanks for the encouragement, Pamela.
    Marianne, bless you for calling my writing a gift.
    Elizabeth, admiration and ability reflect the Lord working through words.

  11. LoRee... my first attempt at writing (when I was very young) was to scribble out the sad ending in a children's story (right in the book, I'm afraid) and write a happy one. After that, I found it very captivating to write stories about the life "I wished I had." Over the years, as I was honing my craft and skills, I realized (almost guiltily) that I was using my storytelling as a means to cope with the uncertainties and disappointments in life.

    However, I have made a very wonderful discovery looking back on all that. Somewhere along the line, I have become that happier, more stable person I was always writing about. And the stories that have beguiled me through many adventures have landed me on some marvelous type of "rainbow road" that I don't think I could have experienced in any other way.

    So, I relate to your "memoir journeys," as they can not only bring healing and happiness to ourselves, but others, as well. Could be it comes under the "give and it shall be given" law. Thanks for sharing this wonderful article, LoRee... so glad you decided to take the journey!

  12. Lily, bless you for the length of your comment. Whatever happens on our life journey, our Lord does use it for good. It may not be our idea of good, and it may not be about us, but He created us to be who we are to complete His plan.

  13. Ah thank you. This was just the encouragement I needed. I've been hesitant to tell what God has put on my heart for fear of exposing someone. But God does not operate by fear but hope and peace.

    I too collage to get into my story and characters! Cool. :)

  14. Jessie, good to see you here. Take courage...if something is on your heart the Lord has a plan.

    Blessings to you, Shirley for hosting a Pen for Your Thoughts.