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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Writing Wednesday - Inserting Fact into Your Fiction

I lead a pretty boring life, which is not good if you are a writer.
Interesting, crazy and funny lives can lead to some pretty interesting stories.

But all is not lost. Fortunately, you can take simple happenings, memories and family member quirks and add them to your manuscript. You can add these small tidbits to your storyline or characters and make for some interesting reading.

I've had this picture frame for years. I picked it up at either a yard sale or thrift store. Many times I have thought of getting rid of it, but I loved it too much. I finally searched for some family pictures to stick in the windows. I put the baby pictures of my three boys in the tiny round windows. My oldest is looking out from the attic. The  middle picture is my mom holding my youngest in a rocking chair. Those are my favorites of the entire frame. My grandparents greet you at the front door and my gr grandparents are on both sides of them. I just love this little 'family tree' frame.

I have taken little quirks, physical traits and unusual mannerisms from my family and added them to my stories.

For instance, how else would I come up with a name such as Ollie Belle for my main character in a chapter book I have written. My mother in law once told me if I ever had a girl, I could name the baby after her and my mother and call her Ollie Belle. It is a cute name, but I'm kind of glad I didn't have a girl.

My father was in the army during WWII and served in Japan for a year after the bombs were dropped. We have listened to his war stories for years. I used them as a basis for a short story titled The War is Finally Over.

Lucy of Tupper's Holler is very loosely based on my grandparents and gr parents life in the early 20th century. There are many things in the manuscript that I would never thought to put in a story had it not been true facts about them. For instance, my grandmother was a very superstitious person and my grandfather was what I would call a healer. He stopped blood and blew the fire out of burns. And, my gr grandmother was rumored to be a  witch. I would never think to put these kind of things in a story if they weren't a part of my ancestor's lives.

I wrote a short story about mine and Charley's courtship and marriage. It is titled, Always There to Hold my Hand.  

Simple things such as the memory of the smell of honeysuckle at your grandparent's house, picking berries, winning ribbons at a county fair for canned goods, working in an enamelware factory during the 1940s, unusual family names, how a cousin or aunt hated sleeping on straw tic beds, your grandmother making quilts and selling them for $2 and the refreshing taste of cool well water in the bucket by the kitchen door can work their way into your stories and poems.

Sit down and look at your family's pictures and make a list of interesting happenings, physical features, mannerisms and quirks. You might find great material  to add to your next story or poem.

Happy Writing.


  1. What a lovely, thoughtful post! Makes one really think, and I love the frame!

  2. This is very interesting! It doesn't sound like you're leading a boring life! That's the only way I can write -- including things I know, or have heard about. Maybe it's not interesting to everyone, but someone will like it. After all, I don't like everything I read either. :)

  3. Love that picture frame, and the way it inspires us to look at little snippets of the whole big picture of family to find the traits we can bring to the page.

    We write what we know, and I love reading those personal touches and experiences in a story, they have a way of bringing the words to life.

  4. Does not sound like a boring life to me. Sounds like a life full of flavor and spice. Thats what families are made of. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Loved this post, Janet.
    Esp like the frame. How unique.
    My mother's name was Ollie Mae. I loved her so I love the name. It's a great name for a char.
    We now have an Ollie's store in town. Do you? It's sort of like what Odd Lots was before it went to Big Lots.
    Anyway you don't lead a boring life and we have to have a bit of boredom in order to create.
    Blessings, B

  6. Good post, Janet, and a good reminder that everything can be fodder for a story if we're paying attention. Mindfulness, really paying attention, is a necessary tool for writing.

    The picture frame is cute. I don't think I've ever seen one like it.

  7. I love this post and the frame. I love simple things, they inspire me the most. I've heard of blowing out burns and my mother could cure the thrash. I love to look at old photos, there's a lot of inspiration there.. Thank you for the helpful advice..Susie

  8. wonderful post Janet! I'd love to read some of your stories!

  9. Barbara, I've never heard of an Ollie's store. Granny Sue, the picture frame is made by CopperCraft Guild. It is dated 1978 (the same year I was married). If you remember, they used to have parties like Tupperware.

  10. The picture frame is unique, and I like your advice on using character traits. We had some colorful characters in our family.

  11. Janet -- Now I can understand why you would want to keep that frame. I have never seen one like it. Nice that you saved it and have now put family photos in all the windows and doorways. Fun -- barbara

  12. I love this post, Janet! Seems we have a similar life and even background. I love to think of family 'stories' to add to my writing, too. Why keep all that good stuff to yourself, right! Especially since, like you, my life can be pretty mundane (which is good sometimes:)).

    I love that little frame. I'm so glad you kept it and made it a 'family' frame!

  13. Hi Janet,
    So nice that you decided to use that nice frame. Its looks so nice.
    Yes they always say to write about what you know. Well I know a lot of things but I don't have that writting talent. I do read all the time, so just keep writting.
    Nancy Jo

  14. What a wonderful post, great advice and so full of family memories. You definitely do not lead a boring life. Your family memories and observations are fascinating.

  15. Hi Janet! Love your post today! I feel exactly the same way. I have so many bits of memory from stories told to me by my family. I have written whole stories around them. There was once a funny story about my mother meeting her best friend in the yard one day when she was chasing her little sister around the big oak tree for stealing her hair ribbon and using it to blot her lipstick on! I used that little scene and wrote one of my favorite stories around. What a nice way to break the ice or break through a bit of writers block. I hope you are having a nice evening Janet and thank you for your thought provoking post today. Delisa :)

  16. Janet-when I first started blogging-my mother in law said if you ever run out of things to write-just look at your pictures and you'll be inspired-she was right-and so are you : )

  17. You're right, it's those little tidbits that make stories so fascinating. That's why I think observation is so important for writers; we miss out on a lot of things that would fit a story or character by just not paying attention. Thanks for the reminder!

    Becca @ The Bookshelf Muse


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