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drybonesreborn
01-15-2007, 12:42 AM
Can you really write a story with your personal pain, in fiction or non-fiction. How can this be done well?

Does fiction hold as much power as a non-fiction story of an account?

Carrie in PA
01-15-2007, 12:59 AM
Does fiction hold as much power as a non-fiction story of an account?

I can't count how many times I've had to lay down a novel because I was crying too hard to read. So I'd say yes, it can.

As for doing it well? That falls under the generic "writing well" at all heading for me. For any writing to be moving, it has to be powerful, and much of that is instinctive as well as mechanical.

PeeDee
01-15-2007, 01:19 AM
I read your story and think "Oh. He's just bitching," then it doesn't work in the slightest.

If you take whatever pain, or problem it is, and you can hold it up critically and say "Oh. This is what it feels like," then you've added to your knowledge a little and can use that for your characters and your stories.

Pamster
01-15-2007, 01:41 AM
I can answer this, yes, it is possible to depict personal tragedy in a meaningful and communicative way so that it gets across in non-fiction. In my memoir I had to face and write about the motorcycle accident that nearly killed me, left me an amputee to the hip just about. I faced that and wrote about it and how my love of Def Leppard (the band, specifical admiration of Rick Allen the one-armed drummer who I have had the distinct pleasure of meeting in 1988) helped motivate me to get released in two months and a day. Eight days before their New Year's Eve show.

My first novel, written years ago, back in 1997-99 called Walk of Fire fictionally depicts a 19 year-old fellow I named Nick Andrews, is on the phone at a corner gas station, a case of wrong place at wrong time, a five car pile up occurs and he's pinned to a yellow pole, basically leaving him an amputee like me only I insisted he be able to use an artificial limb since as a male character he had to be strong.

I cried during the writing of both books, and I hope to see them published someday so that I can hear how it effected the people who get to read them. That is why I wrote them, because I know near-death scares the hell out of people and I wanted to show that it doesn't mean the end of the world-becoming disabled via an accident happens every day to people, it's real and having lived through it myself I can tell you people DO live through some terrible things and keep on keeping on you know?

I think it was a matter of the right moment in my life now distanced from that pain and suffering I experienced, I was able to capture it. Back in 1997 I wasn't ready to face my own story yet, so I wrote Nick's. When time passed and I became motivated, my Memoir was born and written. :)

I hope I came across as offering some insight into your question, because I know from my own experience it feels good to cry and get it out and look forward at the good stuff you've got going on. Sure the past might be painful, but look where you're going, it's much more interesting don't you think? :D

*Edited to add*
Don't let me be nicknamed the thread killer I wasn't trying to kill the thread. If people are interested I can post chunks of the two books to share in the SYW forum. I will only do this if asked, because those are deeply emotional books. Not that the other stuff I have written isn't emotional, it's different. These are the two I used to commuicate my own personal expereince after the accident.

I really love this place and think the world of everyone here I've met so far, so please don't think I am thin skinned just because I am disabled. I am empowered by life you know? I try to share that light I feel inside with people and I get people (total strangers mind you) coming up to me to tell me how much they are impressed with how well I get myself around frmo getting my chair in and out of the car's trunk, to being in the chair and how well I do there.

I know it's harder online to share, really get that emotional intent across so I use words as best as I can, I leave the emotional intent there for your interpretation. :)

greglondon
01-15-2007, 02:58 AM
>Can you really write a story with your personal pain, in fiction

yes. how can you write a character experiencing sadness or pain if you haven't experienced it in some way? You can fake the nuts and bolts like spaceships going to other galaxies and whatnot, but you can't fake the feelings.

>or non-fiction.

Sure. Self help books are a massive industry.

>How can this be done well?

Really well. And really poorly. It depends on the execution.

>Does fiction hold as much power as a non-fiction story of an account?

hm, well, it depends on what you mean by "power". I think you can get readers to feel the characters more in a fiction book. You can get them to engage during the reading process more. You can surround them with great mythical archtypes doing amazing things and standing up to terrible evil. Trying to tell a true story means you have to keep the action true to life (for some definition of "true"). And that means the story may not map quite so neatly into archtypes and myth and whatnot.

But I think you are much more likely to actually change people's behaviour after they've finished reading a non fiction book, because you can tell people what to do, or at least what mistakes you made so they won't make them, etc.

So, I guess it depends on what you mean by "power".

BlueTexas
01-15-2007, 03:18 AM
Can you really write a story with your personal pain, in fiction or non-fiction. How can this be done well?

Does fiction hold as much power as a non-fiction story of an account?


Psst...buy a copy of Stories of Strength. Everyone who participated dealt with some manner of pain in their stories...

drybonesreborn
01-15-2007, 04:14 AM
Psst...buy a copy of Stories of Strength. Everyone who participated dealt with some manner of pain in their stories...
Self-less promotions? LOL

Thanks. I'll look into it.

Thanks to all who posted. I'm sure it's one of those 'I should have said something to somone' kind of thing.

The person isn't dead, but no communication is hard.

drybonesreborn
01-15-2007, 04:15 AM
>Can you really write a story with your personal pain, in fiction

yes. how can you write a character experiencing sadness or pain if you haven't experienced it in some way? You can fake the nuts and bolts like spaceships going to other galaxies and whatnot, but you can't fake the feelings.

>or non-fiction.

Sure. Self help books are a massive industry.

>How can this be done well?

Really well. And really poorly. It depends on the execution.

>Does fiction hold as much power as a non-fiction story of an account?

hm, well, it depends on what you mean by "power". I think you can get readers to feel the characters more in a fiction book. You can get them to engage during the reading process more. You can surround them with great mythical archtypes doing amazing things and standing up to terrible evil. Trying to tell a true story means you have to keep the action true to life (for some definition of "true"). And that means the story may not map quite so neatly into archtypes and myth and whatnot.

But I think you are much more likely to actually change people's behaviour after they've finished reading a non fiction book, because you can tell people what to do, or at least what mistakes you made so they won't make them, etc.

So, I guess it depends on what you mean by "power".

Thanks for the help. Oh, how do I change my avatar?

Tallymark
01-15-2007, 04:15 AM
You may want to check out Alice Sebold's books, Lucky and The Lovely Bones. I haven't read them, but they were pretty big. The former is a memoir of the authors experiences with rape, while the latter is a fictional story about a girl raped and killed. It might be an interesting case study to look at two books on the same subject matter by the same author, but from a fiction and non-fiction approach. Read them and see which you think was more effective, and then ask yourself why.

drybonesreborn
01-15-2007, 04:16 AM
I can't count how many times I've had to lay down a novel because I was crying too hard to read. So I'd say yes, it can.

As for doing it well? That falls under the generic "writing well" at all heading for me. For any writing to be moving, it has to be powerful, and much of that is instinctive as well as mechanical.

That's been my weakness. I don't my work to sound like a whiney 'wishy' story about lost things. *sigh*.

I want to get better now in writing! Thanks. :)

BlueTexas
01-15-2007, 05:53 AM
Self-less promotions? LOL

Thanks. I'll look into it.



Actually, yes. SOS is an AW project to benefit disaster relief charities.

drybonesreborn
01-15-2007, 07:21 AM
Actually, yes. SOS is an AW project to benefit disaster relief charities.

Wow. That's cool. Do you have a link to the book. :)

BlueTexas
01-15-2007, 07:35 AM
Wow. That's cool. Do you have a link to the book. :)

Click the picture in my signature for the official SOS website. There's also a whole board about it in Coffee Break: http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=86

Adagio
01-15-2007, 08:38 AM
I can tell you people DO live through some terrible things and keep on keeping on you know?

Back in 1997 I wasn't ready to face my own story yet, so I wrote Nick's. When time passed and I became motivated, my Memoir was born and written. :)

I hope I came across as offering some insight into your question, because I know from my own experience it feels good to cry and get it out and look forward at the good stuff you've got going on. Sure the past might be painful, but look where you're going, it's much more interesting don't you think? :D

*If people are interested I can post chunks of the two books to share in the SYW forum. I will only do this if asked, because those are deeply emotional books.

I am empowered by life you know? I try to share that light I feel inside with people and I get people (total strangers mind you) coming up to me to tell me how much they are impressed with how well I get myself around frmo getting my chair in and out of the car's trunk, to being in the chair and how well I do there.

I know it's harder online to share, really get that emotional intent across so I use words as best as I can, I leave the emotional intent there for your interpretation. :)

Pamster, what a beautiful post. I highlighted that paragraph. It touched me deeply, although I haven't been through such a terrible experience. Thank you for sharing with us. I would love to read an excerpt from either the Memoir or the book about Nick if you wish to post it in SYW. As for myself, I wrote a prologue to a story based on my personal marital situation (which, I agree, is pretty common and doesn't compare with your accident). I never started the story, but the prologue is told from a character who isn't me. While writing, it got into me. I finished and it sits there, in my computer's files. Maybe, one day ...

What are you writing now, if I may ask you?
Good luck,
Adagio

Pamster
01-15-2007, 10:41 AM
Pamster, what a beautiful post. I highlighted that paragraph. It touched me deeply, although I haven't been through such a terrible experience. Thank you for sharing with us. I would love to read an excerpt from either the Memoir or the book about Nick if you wish to post it in SYW. As for myself, I wrote a prologue to a story based on my personal marital situation (which, I agree, is pretty common and doesn't compare with your accident). I never started the story, but the prologue is told from a character who isn't me. While writing, it got into me. I finished and it sits there, in my computer's files. Maybe, one day ...

What are you writing now, if I may ask you?
Good luck,
Adagio

Then I will gladly post some of the memoir and also some of the novel just to see what you and others think Adagio. Thank you for asking about my current work, I am writing some children's stories which have to be edited since I have gotten some very valuable criticism here in the SYW forum already I am inspired to revamp those at the current time before going back to my second unpublished novel Two Wrongs Make A Light about an exotic dancer who is in a bad relationship and gets assaulted before the opening of the book by her baby's father.

It has 50,000 words and I am aiming for around 80,000 so I need to finish it sometime this year because it's a good story and I want to finish it because it bothers me I left it off where I did. I need to give it just a little more time and I should be able to wrap up the ending in a satisfying manner. I will see if I can format a post in SYW with some of Walk of Fire so people can see how much I have grown when compared to my first children's story I posted the first chapter of.

Do you plan on finishing the book about your marital situation or just moving on and are satisfied with the prologue on its own? Don't discount the hard times you might have been through though, I firmly believe we are all given no more then we can bear and that we can always make things work with whatever we've got. :) If it was the hardest time in your life then it's probably a series of events and experiences worth sharing. :)

Adagio
01-15-2007, 11:37 AM
Then I will gladly post some of the memoir and also some of the novel just to see what you and others think Adagio. Thank you for asking about my current work, I am writing some children's stories which have to be edited since I have gotten some very valuable criticism here in the SYW forum already I am inspired to revamp those at the current time before going back to my second unpublished novel Two Wrongs Make A Light about an exotic dancer who is in a bad relationship and gets assaulted before the opening of the book by her baby's father

I'm looking forward to reading those excerpts. Children's books! I love them although I don't have children of my own. In the past I worked for a large YA and children's books publisher. Wonderful publications, especially picture books. I'll check the past threads and see if I can find your previous SYW posts. Good luck with your second novel. Domestic abuse is a hard topic, emotional for both the writer and the reader.


Do you plan on finishing the book about your marital situation or just moving on and are satisfied with the prologue on its own? Don't discount the hard times you might have been through though, I firmly believe we are all given no more then we can bear and that we can always make things work with whatever we've got. :) If it was the hardest time in your life then it's probably a series of events and experiences worth sharing. :)

It's in the past, I'm fine now. I agree with what you wrote in the highlighted sentence. As for my story, it evolved into something else I'm writing now -- in the re-writing/editing phase. But that prologue is finished. I might end up re-writing it as a short story, and, if I gather enough courage, post it in SYW. I'm not certain about prologues. I read them on the idea that the authors had a reason to write them. Not too many people though like prologues. If badly written, they could be a nuisance.

I wonder if drybonesreborn who started this thread got some help with her initial query. I think that cathartic stories (fiction) might have a healing effect.

Once again, good luck with your writing.
Adagio

Pamster
01-15-2007, 12:26 PM
I'm looking forward to reading those excerpts. Children's books! I love them although I don't have children of my own. In the past I worked for a large YA and children's books publisher. Wonderful publications, especially picture books. I'll check the past threads and see if I can find your previous SYW posts. Good luck with your second novel. Domestic abuse is a hard topic, emotional for both the writer and the reader.

Thank you for the luck, I definitely need it since I am at the romance stage and need to wrap up a nice happy ending for it. Hopefully I will continued to be inspired as I recently began re-editing it and adding to the point where it leaves off and I got a little stuck on the direction to take it. I think I am going to work an outline for it and then see if I can structure what remains of it and get to work writing it.

That you will read my children's story and that you're a fan of those kinds of works makes me really pleased Adagio, thank you for taking the time to read over the one I posted. Definitely let me know what you think, I would love to see what a fan of children's stories thinks of what I've shared in SYW of Facets of Friendship.

It's in the past, I'm fine now. I agree with what you wrote in the highlighted sentence. As for my story, it evolved into something else I'm writing now -- in the re-writing/editing phase. But that prologue is finished. I might end up re-writing it as a short story, and, if I gather enough courage, post it in SYW. I'm not certain about prologues. I read them on the idea that the authors had a reason to write them. Not too many people though like prologues. If badly written, they could be a nuisance.

I understand what makes you say that, I have read some that annoyed me, I can't for the life of me remember where though, but I have seen what you refer to. ;) I would be interested in reading your story if you finish writing it sometime and are comfortable enough to share it with us Adagio, so if you're thinking about sharing something the forum is password protected and only members are able to see things posted in there, think about it and see if you feel up to doing it. :)

I wonder if drybonesreborn who started this thread got some help with her initial query. I think that cathartic stories (fiction) might have a healing effect.

I agree with you, I think cathartic stories can and mostly do have a healing effect. I hope drybonesreborn was helped by all that was posted above too. If not, definitely follow up on it eh, drybonesreborn? :D

Once again, good luck with your writing.
Adagio

Thank you and best wishes to you with your writing, may it take you many happy places and bring you much satisifcation. :snoopy:

maestrowork
01-15-2007, 10:37 PM
Cathartic stories should have universal themes and easily identifiable characters to reach the readers and make them feel and connect. Otherwise, it'd be too personal and the readers will say, "Who cares about this self-indulging sob story?" Also, it should have a unique take; otherwise, the readers will say, "Seen that show a million times already."

Pamster
01-15-2007, 10:48 PM
I agree maestrowork, I think they shoudl have easily identifiable themes and characters so that they are easy to connect to as a reader. Also having a unique not done before take on something can definitely be postive and help a book's chances for success. :)

maestrowork
01-15-2007, 11:02 PM
Avoid the "disease of the month" or "abused person of the year" plague, unless you really do have a unique take.

Pamster
01-15-2007, 11:06 PM
Good advice, however I write about disabilities in most of my fiction and in my memoir of course, and my son is autistic which I have a fear is becoming the 'disorder of the month' so to speak, but I don't think it's been overly done in fiction or non-fiction just yet so I hope my work, which includes content devoted to illustrating what living with autism is like for parents of children with autism, doesn't come off as poorly done or griping with a sob story of the week vibe or anything.

I have to say that I am really inspired by the creativity that exists here all around me, it's great to see such talented people sharing stories and offering valuable feedback. That is what drew me here and made me lurk for only a day before just having to jump in and add my two cents worth to threads and debates. It's just awesome that so many published authors are on staff here, it is really encouraging to me to be among you all. :)

Kate Thornton
01-15-2007, 11:30 PM
Good advice, however I write about disabilities in most of my fiction and in my memoir of course, and my son is autistic which I have a fear is becoming the 'disorder of the month' so to speak, but I don't think it's been overly done in fiction or non-fiction just yet so I hope my work, which includes content devoted to illustrating what living with autism is like for parents of children with autism, doesn't come off as poorly done or griping with a sob story of the week vibe or anything.

I have to say that I am really inspired by the creativity that exists here all around me, it's great to see such talented people sharing stories and offering valuable feedback. That is what drew me here and made me lurk for only a day before just having to jump in and add my two cents worth to threads and debates. It's just awesome that so many published authors are on staff here, it is really encouraging to me to be among you all. :)

Pamster - you might be interested in Ability Maine's Breath & Shadow. I have written for them - you must be disabled to contribute. Here's the link - I love reading the fiction, memoir, & poetry - and it's free! (They are a paying market for writers, though)

Sometimes *reading* can be cathartic!

http://www.abilitymaine.org/breath/

Pamster
01-15-2007, 11:42 PM
Thanks for the great link, I can tell I will be looking around at this place and perhaps writing some piece for publication with them. I really appreciate you posting this Kate, I agree, sometimes reading is carthatic. ;) :D

*goes to look at their submission guidelines*

drybonesreborn
01-16-2007, 04:44 AM
Wow. Thanks for the feedback. :)

Pamster
01-16-2007, 04:48 AM
Really glad to help drybonesreborn! :D Are you writing a memoir or do you have a fictional story in mind you want to write? :)

drybonesreborn
01-16-2007, 05:08 AM
I'm doing fiction. It's too painful for me to write it out in real life. In a sense, it let's me do what I want, to change the past. This isn't to say that I'm going to make it totally false. I'll weave my idea, my wish, and hope into it.

A friend hasn't spoken to me in a year. She's blocked me. Painful, becuase, I did nothing wrong. I went over the situation. I never told her a lie, never insulted her, never tried to do anything to upset her.

Long story. But, since communication is blocked, (still wish it wasn't) I have some way to write it out.

I no nothing about writing memoirs.

Pamster
01-16-2007, 05:33 AM
I know nothing about writing memoirs myself, I simply had read "Still Me" by Christopher Reeve and decided I had to pick mine back up last year. I am sorry your friend stopped associating with you for whatever reason, but definitely write about it and vent it emotionally. As you said you did nothing wrong, you didn't lie or anything, so as painful as it might be you can write about it in the fictional sense/tense and make it end however you want.

I wish you luck on it drybonesreborn. I know how hard it was to write certain scenes in my fictional story where I put so much of my own experience into it. It's got a lot of things in it that are NOTHING like my life though because I felt strongly about the issues I covered I decided that it didn't matter and had to be written about. I am editing the fictional story now and hope to be able to post the first chapter before too much longer. I have to cut a couple thousand words from it and have put that task off for years, almost ten years, and it's time to do something with this story. :)