Written by Lisa Phipps
My intermediate poetry novel, starfish, Is based on my life. So people often ask me, “How can I turn my personal story into a novel?” On the surface, it may be the simplest book you have ever written. However, this is the problem. This is on the surface. If you have ever tried to write your story, you will know this is a challenge.
Challenge 1: People don’t want to know everything. We all have our own struggles, so we all have a lot of materials to use. The temptation is to tell the reader every detail in your life, including everyone you meet. This is overwhelming for readers. And, if you do, it will be overwhelming for the author; this is why you give up and stop writing novels.
Solution 1: Leave a lot of things on the cutting room floor. What events in your life-good or bad-make you, you, make your story unique? Think about how you use or want to use what happened to you to change or help the reader and the world. Treat it like the Kennedy Center Honor Award. When someone receives a lifetime achievement award, the audience will get a highlight of the decisive moment that shaped that person’s life and made them have an impact on the world. That is your template.
Challenge two: You must be honest-to the reader and yourself. Although the good things that happen to us are our most precious memories, it is usually those bad moments that define and shape us. Even thinking about or sharing them with the closest friends we trust is unpleasant-not to mention printing them out for strangers around the world to see, strangers who may not be able to “understand”. Many times, they are embarrassed. Sometimes our reaction to those moments reveals that we don’t want to acknowledge the side of ourselves that we have, and we absolutely don’t want anyone to know who we are. Write down those moments. This is the story.
Solution 2: You must be real and original. in starfish, Ellie was emotionally hit. I always tell readers, “Not everything that happened to Allie happened to me, but everything that happened to Allie happened to me. Allie got a watered down version.” Tell the world, when When it comes to my weight and my body, my mother thinks that I am not easy to write about. I cried and wrote these poems. I cry when I think of them. I will never read them aloud. Do you know what is worse? The moment I realized that I had to accept the fact: my mother saw me as a thing.With a fictitious version of your story, one thing have to Non-fiction: your emotions. If your story lacks real emotion, you will never be able to connect with your readers. What do writers want most? Christy Anne Martine put it best: “I hope someone can read these words and understand me for a second, so that my thoughts will not be alone.”
About Lisa Phipps