Creative Writing Paper

Creative Writing Paper

“Where did you think this up?”  “Did this really happen or not?”  Questions you’ll get if you ever write a good story. It is fact or is it fiction?  Does it matter? Should we care?

If you’re writing fiction then obviously that’s what this “stuff” is suppose to be, but, naturally, particularly if it’s a realistic portrayal you are striving for, you have to deal with facts, and those facts are most often gleaned from your own experience. We all know that frequently fictional characters are a mix of the autobiographical and biographical, composites of ourselves and those around us, part truth, part fiction: faction. In this sense at least, and though you’ll never get one to admit it, very little of what a fiction writer puts down as fiction is purely that.

Fred Exley, author of A Fan’s Notes, has one of those short disclaimers at the front of his book which says “this (book ) is totally a work of the imagination except perhaps for the character of Mrs. So-and-So,” a character, Exley says, he based loosely on his aunt or someone.

People who know Fred Exley say the only thing that isn’t true in “A Fan’s Notes” is this little disclaimer.

The point, I guess, is that, admit it or not, writers must draw their material from real life situations. The reason for this is a simple and profoundly human one: there is nothing more interesting to our species than ourselves– our own personal thoughts, desires and feelings. For this reason alone every story should be rooted somewhere in our human reality, and have at its base something with which we, as human beings, can identify, no matter how grotesque or bizarre or fanciful the story’s fictional representative may seem (sci-fi, fantasy, and the current avant-garde are no exceptions to this rule).

Or to put it in another light: it shouldn’t be a writer’s business to “think up” wild and crazy plots (though that’s certainly fun). In fact, you shouldn’t even try to compete with reality—because you can’t. First of all, nothing you might “make up” will “measure up” to what really happens “out there.” Secondly, the ancient Greeks spun all the plots you’ll ever have the need for. Oedipus, for example, was the first detective story.

And besides, making up something “wild” and “incredible” is really just the opposite of what a writer’s business should be. As a writer, you are in the “credibility” business. Facts, even real ones, things that really did happen to you or someone, must be made, through the writer’s magic, believable. If you keep your eyes open, read the papers occasionally, and anything else that strikes your fancy, you’ll have all the raw facts you need. Facts, in short, aren’t a problem unless you let them be. Your problem, as a writer, is how to make them come to life; how to take the facts and these two dimensional stick figure people and make them live and breathe. In short, you must crawl inside the skins of your people; make us see the world as they do. Tell the story in their language–in their voice, in their words.

Then it is finally a writer’s job to sift among the rubble of this raw material–facts, anecdotes, stories–for that material which fits somehow the writer’s particular vision, the selected facts and stories which correspond or comment upon what the writer sees, how he or she senses things really are. Then the writer must take his chosen material and shape it according to a vision, one which we, as readers, can recognize and identify as part of ourselves.

Also remember: there is nothing, no story or situation, if presented properly, effectively rendered, that is finally unbelievable. Or to put it as a challenge: if you really think you have made up something too wild to be believed compare it with some of the following “real” stories:









Take one of the following newspaper entries (that appear on the next page) and write a scene that dramatizes the situation or presented by the article or ad. That is bring the newspaper entry to life so that the reader can actual visualize and see it like they would a film or movie. You may use any of the facts from the article or ad, but for the most part you will need to stray from the “facts” and make things up.


Note that there are 3 articles, but choose only one.  And do not try and combine them.


Approximate length: 1 to 2 pages.


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