Jul 172014
 
Use Fiction to tell true stories

It’s not just either or. You can also use fiction to tell true stories.

How do you communicate your story without having to tell it? One way is to use fiction to tell true stories. Writers often use this tool when they (or their editors) feel that real life fails to produce great literature. (Julie Schumacher’s Turning Real Life into Fiction explains some of these quandaries.)

Beyond Literary Devices: When to Use Fiction to Tell True Stories

The family storyteller may have different motivations for using fiction to tell their stories. Literary excellence matters less than emotional practicalities. Family members might not be ready to hear the actual details, for instance. The reverse can also be true. Sometimes the family has been so immersed in the trauma and details of an event that they miss the over-arching “truth” of the story.

You also might not be ready to tell what happened to you. You may not be ready to name names. Perhaps you’re foggy on a couple of the details. Explaining that a fictional story has a basis in reality can give loved ones insight into your past without giving them direct access to your wounds.

Advocating through Fictional Stories

Fictional accounts provide the opportunity to advocate by emphasizing certain parts of the story. When you openly state that your fiction resembles your reality, your readers understand your authority as a narrator. However, the fiction shifts their focus from the details of your life to your advocacy.

Risky Issues by Lorraine Reguly

Risky Issues doesn’t just use fiction to tell true stories. Rather than focusing on what happened to the author, readers get to the crux of the issues that face teens.

This is what author Lorraine Reguly does in Risky Issues, a collection of short stories based on her life. In each of the stories, a young teen encounters and negotiates a difficult issue. Reguly explains her motivation for sharing fictionalized stories:

The reason I have decided to share these stories with the world is to help spread awareness about some of the issues that children, teens, and even young adults may struggle with, including – and especially – the issue of sexual abuse…

It is my hope that those who are in similar situations can find the strength and the courage to speak out about their fears and experiences instead of holding their secrets inside – whatever these secrets or issues may be.

It’s tough enough being a child, but being a child with no one to speak to is even harder.

Let’s change that. Now.

Your Turn

Have you used fiction to tell true stories? How did that work for you?

More about Lorraine:

Lorraine Reguly definitely has stories to tell. She’s a rape survivor and single mom. She’s had a brush with death and has contemplated suicide. Her site, WordingWell.com, features her blog, book reviews (including one of Memories of Me),  and writer services. You can connect with Lorraine on  Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and Pinterest.

 

 

  2 Responses to “When to Use Fiction to Tell True Stories”

  1. Hi Laura! I just wanted to thank you for the nice things you said about my book. It’s true – I’ve been through a lot. The wonderful thing is that I learned so much from my experiences. I like sharing my knowledge with others, and it’s my hope that they don’t make the same mistakes I did in my life – like keeping silent about the abuse I suffered…

    I suppose that’s why my book is useful to others; it’s never to late to change your circumstances and speak out.

    Thanks for using my book to demonstrate your point about writing true stories when the truth hurts so much. Sadly, for many of us, our pain is all too real.

    Fortunately, I’m in a better place now, mentally and emotionally. I’m also finding out that there is healing power in sharing, and I’d like to encourage others to do the same, regardless of what your “risky issue” is. You’ll be much happier with yourself once you do. I can practically guarantee it.

  2. […] is a true story, but the other stories in my book are fiction. In Laura Hedgecock’s post, When to Use Fiction to Tell True Stories, she explains how the pain from writing the truth about your experiences shouldn’t stop you […]

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