Finding the Truth

Other chapters in this guide will discuss elements of narrative you can use to craft a short story. This chapter focuses on the importance of finding the "truth" of your own story in order to write effective fiction. If you let yourself write through to that truth, you find your integrity as a writer. You can bring that integrity to fiction, creating worlds that readers recognize because they speak to something true to their own human understanding.

You may have hundreds of plot lines mapped in your mind. You may have characters sketched or specific themes you want to convey. All these pieces can and will come to life. But whether you plan to embark on a writing career, or you simply want to write the best story you can write, you need to start with your own story. The emphasis is on your own because only you can write this story. It's yours. You could e-mail me a list of important events in your life and from the details you provide, I might construct a reasonable portrait of your life. But it would remain a portrait—I could not write the "truth" of your life. You can.

Writing Practice

Freewrite! Write that list of important events in your life. Record what immediately comes to mind without trying to order the events.

Now read through the list and choose one event. Freewrite for 10 minutes about that time. Write your first ideas without editing. This exercise focuses on finding the personal importance of those moments; you're not bound to the "facts" of the event. Try using one of the following prompts as the first phrase of your first sentence:

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