Writing What You Know: How to Turn Personal Experiences into Publishable Fiction, Nonfiction, and Poetry

Writing What You Know: How to Turn Personal Experiences into Publishable Fiction, Nonfiction, and Poetry

by Meg Files

Paperback(Second Edition)

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It's easy for people to write about their feelings in a journal. It's more difficult, however, to convert personal experiences into stories worthy of publication—fiction, non-fiction, or poetry. Filled with engaging exercises, Write from Life guides writers in identifying story-worthy material and transforming their raw material into finished pieces, through conquering fears associated with personal exposure, determining a story's focus, shaping the material into a cohesive whole, and editing and revising as needed. Writers working in any form will find this book invaluable for supplying them with the inspiration and practical instruction they need to get their experiences and emotions into print. In addition, they will learn to:

Tap into difficult, guarded parts of their lives to tell the stories they desire
Write emotionally intense material
Decide which literary form is right for their stories
Create the illusion of real speech with effective dialogue
Tell their stories with authority
Develop effective beginnings, middles, and ends
Share their work with others and deal with reactions courageously

Files' friendly, encouraging advice makes it a pleasure for writers to write the stories they are most passionate about. In an age when publishing can mean pushing a button on Facebook, Twitter, or a blog, there is an enduring urge to send stories out into the world. In an atmosphere of misinformation and lies that social media and the ease of publishing may encourage, we especially crave truth. The time to start telling it is now—so many aspiring writers have truths worth sharing and stories begging to be told!

Allworth Press, an imprint of Skyhorse Publishing, publishes a broad range of books on the visual and performing arts, with emphasis on the business of art. Our titles cover subjects such as graphic design, theater, branding, fine art, photography, interior design, writing, acting, film, how to start careers, business and legal forms, business practices, and more. While we don't aspire to publish a New York Times bestseller or a national bestseller, we are deeply committed to quality books that help creative professionals succeed and thrive. We often publish in areas overlooked by other publishers and welcome the author whose expertise can help our audience of readers.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781621535119
Publisher: Allworth
Publication date: 04/19/2016
Edition description: Second Edition
Pages: 212
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Meg Files is the author of the novels Meridian 144 and The Third Law of Motion, Home Is the Hunter and Other Stories, and The Love Hunter and Other Poems. She teaches creative writing at Pima College in Tucson, where she directs the Pima Writers’ Workshop.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

1 Truthtelling: Finding the Best Story Material 5

What Are Our Stories? 7

How Do We Know Our Stories? 12

2 Facing Down the Monsters: Quieting the Fears That Hold Back Stories 19

Stop and Write 19

Monsters 21

Stop and Write 22

Name Those Monsters 22

The Inner Mom 22

Bare Naked Cannibals 23

Born Too Loose 23

Roadkill 23

Point Blank 24

Fear of Not Flying 24

Stop and Write 24

Facing Down My Monsters 25

Facing Down Your Monsters 27

Talk Back 28

Eat Up 29

Bring on the Judge 30

Raise the Dead 30

Shoot 33

Collect Frequent Flyer Miles 34

The Meaning of Writer's Block 35

Stop and Write 37

Playing With Blocks 40

3 Jumping Into the Abyss: Understanding the Creative Process 41

Magnetism 42

Gravity 46

Bait 49

Here, Kitty Kitty Kitty 49

Care, Feeding, and Training 51

Bring on the Catnip 52

4 Willing the Flesh: Applying Methods of Strong Storytelling 59

Language Matters 60

I Feel Your Pain 63

The Truth Is in the Details 64

How Do You Know Which Details to Include? 65

Tell, Don't Show 68

But Really-Show, Don't Tell 70

The Truth About Details 73

Show Yourself 74

Saying the Unsalable 74

5 Telling It Slant Using Indirection to Reveal Truth 77

Do Facts Matter? 78

Telling It Slant 81

What I Did on My Summer Vacation 82

And so She Told Him 82

No Cheese, Please 83

From a Distance 84

Writing Slant 84

The Ladder of Tears 86

Can You Hear Me Now? 89

Practicing Slant 92

6 Choosing Directions: Considering Genre Choices 95

Put Yourself on the Stand 95

Poetry or Prose? 95

Fiction and Nonaction: The Three Differences 99

The Truth 100

Voice 100

Structure 101

Fiction or Nonaction? 101

Reasons for Telling 101

Nothing But the Facts 109

The Voice of the Story 110

I'm Gonna Te-elll 113

Morphing Genres 114

Listen to Me 115

7 Splashing in the Abyss: Applying Special Technical Tips 117

Swimming Pool Lessons 117

Voice 118

Speaking in Tongues 121

It's All About You 124

Voice Lessons 126

Other Voices 126

He Said, She Said (Take 1) 126

He Said, She Said (Take 2) 128

Beginning? 129

Middles 130

Endings 131

Structure 133

Of Refraction and Diffusion: Poetry Lessons 135

Image = Truth 136

Line Breaks and Stanzas 139

Rhyme and Rhythm 141

Form 143

Playing with Form 146

Leaps and Surprises 147

Making Leaps 149

8 Listening to the Critics: Dealing with Readers 153

Who Are Your Best Critics? 153

How to Play Critic 155

Dos 156

Marginalia 158

Don'ts 160

Workshop Hazards 162

Hard Hat Zone 163

Meg's House Rules 165

When Workshops Go Bad 166

Back to the Workshop 167

9 Knowing What's True: Revising Stories 169

The Purpose of Drafts 170

From Draft to Draft 176

The Big Questions 178

Spray and Wash 179

Unnecessary Words 180

Redundancies 181

Oops 181

The Unengaged Brain 182

Mixed Metaphors 182

Clichés 182

Writerisms 183

Body Parts 184

Bad Images, Bad Metaphors 185

Turning Purple 186

Practicing Purple 187

Knowing When to Quit 187

Permissions 189

About the Author 192

Index 193

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