Turning Life Into Fiction

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  • Edition: 2nd
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2006-05-02
  • Publisher: Graywolf Press

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A highly entertaining and indispensable manual on how to write good fiction If you want to write at all, whether from real life or not, you must be willing and able to use your imagination. That means you must be willing to take risks and sometimes look the fool. You must be willing to transform experience, not simply record it. If you were a good liar, daydreamer, or troublemaker as a child, you'll probably make a good fiction writer. Daydreams, lies, and trouble. That's the stuff of fiction. InTurning Life into Fiction, Robin Hemley offers a highly entertaining and in-depth manual¬--with writing exercises on how to convert real life into good storytelling. He covers a wide range of subjects, including how to record and generate ideas from daily life and how to write effectively using true anecdotes, real places, and real people. A self-proclaimed liar and thief, Hemley also addresses the legal and ethical concerns of ¬"borrowing¬" experience from the lives of strangers and loved ones. Lively, informative, and inspirational,Turning Life into Fictionis an invaluable text for any fiction writer. First published in 1994, this new edition is updated and expanded to include nearly a dozen short stories that Hemley refers to throughout the book.

Author Biography

Robin Hemley is the author of seven award-winning books of fiction and nonfiction. He is the director of the Nonfiction Writing Program at the University of Iowa.

Table of Contents

Introduction Experience Versus the Imagination: A Transformation 3(8)
ONE Journals
Recording and generating ideas
TWO Finding Your Form
Choosing between memoir and novel, transforming anecdotes into stories
THREE Focusing Real Life
Imposing order on experience through characterization, plot, point of view, and other elements of craft
FOUR Real People
Transforming real people into fictional characters, creating composite characters
FIVE Real Stories
Writing stories of family, childhood, jobs, and other true experiences; finding story ideas in the media, in dreams, in chance discoveries
SIX Real Places
Creating fictional settings from actual places
SEVEN Writing (and Rewriting) with Authority
Weaving research into fiction, gaining distance on material, revising fiction
EIGHT Legal and Ethical Concerns
Using real names and people what writers can and cannot do
"Installations" by Robin Hemley
"Risk" by Charles Dickinson
"Nada" by Judith Ortiz Cofer
"Death in the Woods" by Sherwood Anderson
"If You Step on a Crack" by Sharon Solwitz
"Apple" by Josip Novakovich
"The Lizard" by Elaine Gottlieb
"Interior Design' by Philip Graham
"The Provider" by Ian MacMillan
"The Big Ear" by Robin Hemley

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