The Art of Telling True Stories

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This topic contains 19 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by  Kayla Skywriter 5 days, 23 hours ago.

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  • #93893

    Evelyn
    @evelyn

    I have always had this dream to travel around the US and sit down with five different people over some coffee and just say “Tell me a story.”

    And listen.

     

    Last week I heard the most amazing story. I knew my friend was partially Asian, but I knew nothing beyond that. I had never met her mother. Had never heard her story. Of escaping China during WWII to Vietnam. Her whole family trying to escape Vietnam during the war. Of being under house arrest. About being forced to join the communist army at 16. About splitting up. About running in the night. About being the last boat to leave and being stuck at sea, ships refusing to pick them up.

    She sat there in our dining room, cheesecake long gone from our plates and the ice in our cups melted, as we listened and hours slipped by.

     

    Then I have a friend whose father left his job high up in the South African government because he wanted his kids to grow up in a strong Christian church.

    I heard him tell his stories of the army coming across a lone elephant during patrol. Of a guy he knew who was picked up and thrown on the ground multiple times and about to be trampled when his buddy emptied his gun – over 30 shots – into the elephant’s back before it was scared off. Not killed, just scared off. He has stories of that. Of how to survive in the wild. Of working along side Nelson Mandela. Of adjusting. Of farming. Of culture.

    And how, if you ever meet an elephant in the wild, stand still. Elephants can’t see well and will think you’re tree.

    The family still speaks Afrikaans around the house and are working on hand digging and building a African barbeque in their backyard.

     

    And then I know someone else who grew up in Australia and then ended up working at a castle in England. I’ve heard her tell stories of growing up on a farm. Of fishing. Of boating. Or having to save American tourists when they got stranded on an island. And stories of her and her friend taking their newly wed American husbands to visit Australia and who they refused to go anywhere after a giant lizard interrupted their picnic.

    I could keep going because everyone has a story.

    I have always said that and it nearly took my breath away when my friend’s mother, without prompting, kept saying it:

    Everyone has a story.

    You have one. And you. And you. And you.

     

    I’m curious. What are your stories? Do you ever draw inspiration from them for your fictional stories? Have you ever written non-fiction? If so, how did it go? How did you approach it? What was the process like? Did you find any helpful resources?

    #93899

    K.M. Small
    @morreafirebird

    @evelyn I love this topic! I think it’s all too easy as a writer to forget that real life is where the most incredible stories always take place 😀

    Personally, I have drawn inspiration from my own life for my stories. Only it happened in an opposite way; when I was thirteen, I wrote a fantasy story about a girl running away from the only place she’d ever called home, being gone for two years and undergoing a lot of change, then coming back as a new person with a mission on her heart. Not a year later, my own family moved from the only home I’d ever had, was gone for four years, a time when I really drew closer to God, and now we just moved back. The parallels were shocking, mainly because I’d written that story before I even knew my family was going to move. Now I’m going back to rewrite that story, and I suddenly understand my main character all the more.

    But in general, I mainly use my own and other’s internal journeys and growth for story inspiration. Except for that time I had to crawl through my kitchen window and that ended up as a scene in one of my books xD

    ~ Khylie (formerly Audrey)
    An old-soul bookdragon with a pet phoenix. Probably lost in an imaginary worl

    #93950

    Elisha Starquill
    @elisha-starquill

    @evelyn – That first story of your friend was chillingly relatable because…I’m half Vietnamese. My mother tells me amazing stories that my grandparents told her about surviving through both the Japanese invasion and French invasion, wars that not many of us Americans know about because we often focus on our war with Vietnam. I love visiting family and listening to my grand-uncles talk about their adventures.

    I remember one that appealed to the writer in me. My grandfather was a soldier fighting against the French, and there was this story about a man from the city who wanted to visit his parents in the country. So he set off, wearing a white shirt, blue jeans, and a red handkerchief in his pocket. But when Vietnamese soldiers saw him, they thought he was a spy for the French because he was unknowingly wearing France’s colors. So they killed him.

    Moral of the story: fashion choices really do matter. 😛

    Then there was one during our war with Vietnam, when my mother was a toddler. She remembers the bomb alarms going off telling everyone to go to the shelters because the Americans were coming. So my grandfather ushered everyone to the basement, but he himself always refused to go. He would stay in their apartment, saying that if they got bombed the shelter wouldn’t do much good and they would all die anyway.

    That’s my grandfather for you. xD

    But thank God he was never proven wrong or right, because they never got bombed directly.

    INFJ ➳ Wanderess ➳ Trinstamentalist ➳ Thalassophile ➳ Chocolate Hater ➳ Daughter of God

    #93952

    Evelyn
    @evelyn

    @morreafirebird Wow that’s crazy.

    I find things like that often happen in my poetry, but it has yet to happen in one of my stories. About a year I had a friend who was struggling with letting go of something and so I wrote a simple small poem about it for him, though I never ended up sharing it and pretty much forgot about it until my best friend and I said up late one night a week later and she explained what she was going through: she was stepping away from the life she use to have, was having to step away from a spots team and school and her people there, because of family health and expenses. And all this time I was packing up and moving, letting go of everything I had known and having to learn to let go. That poem has meant so much to me and it was such strange timing…

    Crawling through the kitchen window? XD XD

    I must hear this story. 😉

    @elisha-starquill Oh wow, that’s really cool. That must be amazing. I love sitting down and listening to people talk about their childhood.

    Wow… I will watch my fashion…. wow.

    Do you ever find your writing inspired by the things they tell you?

     

    #93990

    Elisha Starquill
    @elisha-starquill

    @evelyn – I do, especially when I’m building my world’s history and writing little stories of its past wars. One day, when I’m older and have more experience in life, I want to write a book about my family’s lives in Vietnam. But right now I’m not quite ready for nonfiction.

    I find myself inspired by all stories, really. Which is why I love listening to adults talk and why I read so much. 😉

    What about you? Have you tried writing nonfiction?

    INFJ ➳ Wanderess ➳ Trinstamentalist ➳ Thalassophile ➳ Chocolate Hater ➳ Daughter of God

    #94012

    Bama Rose
    @bama-rose

    @evelyn

    Oh yes, I love this topic! This year I’ve discovered that I struggle writing a completely fictional story. I have no idea why, but I just cant. So I decided to write stories that are based off true stories, but not true enough to be called nonfiction or anything.

    Also, I love writing stories that are completely untold. Stories that are excluded from a regular history book.

    I think a lot of people on SE write fantasy–or at least read a lot of it–but for some reason I never really have. I don’t know why. It just doesn’t come out as naturally.

    Great topic, btw!

    How we walk with the broken speaks louder than how we sit with the great. -Bill Bennot

    #94037

    Evelyn
    @evelyn

    @bama-rose That’s really interesting and I’m really curious what that look like… What type of non-fiction stories do you use in that process? Do you change the setting of the story? Do you tweak any of it? Or just add? And where do you usually find these stories?

    (Sorry if I’m asking too many questions, I just haven’t heard many people talk about this and I’m honestly very curious. 😛 )

    #94038

    Evelyn
    @evelyn

    @elisha-starquill Wow, that would be really cool! If you ever do remember to tell me somehow because I would want to read it. (:

    Adults honestly have the most interesting conversation… I remember when I was ten-ish I would want to sit and listen to them but my friends would get so annoyed cause they just wanted to go play with the dress-up. xD

    I have not written non-fiction but I really want to try (hence this thread). Well. I mean I’ve written papers and essays and poems that are about something that happened to me, but I don’t really count that I guess. 😛

    #94092

    Bama Rose
    @bama-rose

    @evelyn

    *takes a deep breath* *brain starts churning* 😄 Okay! I don’t know how to say this, and this will probably end up pretty long, but I’ll try to sum it up.

    So to answer your questions. I found out that if I write a completely fictional story it doesn’t come out right, but I’ve also discovered that if I write a completely nonfiction story I’ll get too stressed about the details. I’ll worry that it’s not how it actually was and all that.

    Basically how Iron Man says it. There’s a little area between a true story and a made-up one that I thrive in.

    I pretty much take the story, tweak certain things (sometimes big sections or  small ones), and use similar character personalities if I know what they are.

    You asked me what type of stories I use. This will get complicated. 😜

    I live in northern Ontario so I hear a lot about the residential schools and the 60’s Scoop. Actually, I know a lot of people who are connected and still affected by it all. All the stories are so heartbreaking–especially because most people don’t know about them. To summarize, the Native American children from reserves were taken from their homes and families and sent to schools along with other Indigenous children. The schools were meant to “civilize” the Native culture and people. Obviously, the heart in the matter was all wrong. The children were… not well taken care of, to say the least.

    To this day, many many  people are affected by everything that happened–left with physical and emotional scars. The children and grand-children are influenced as well when the parents don’t deal with their pain. In some cases the children are neglected and get taken into care–which is where my family comes in. Our family fosters children through a native agency, so we come in contact with so many unique children and stories.

    This is where I get my inspiration.❤️❤️

    Sorry to make this thread so depressing!!! 😝 I just bombarded you with a long story so… sorry about that. It just… means a lot to me I guess. Anyhow, I don’t mind your questions at all! (haha as long as you don’t mind my painfully long answers… lol)

    • This reply was modified 3 weeks ago by  Bama Rose.

    How we walk with the broken speaks louder than how we sit with the great. -Bill Bennot

    #94306

    Emberynus The Dragonslayer
    @emberynus-the-dragonslayer

      @evelyn

      I have also gotten a lot of inspiration from my own life. Mostly from the people I come in contact with.

      Alot of what I get from my personal life story is deep emotions and thoughts. Lessons I’ve learned, victories, failures. . . That kind of thing.

      You can't live for long living for nothing-Hector Griffin

      #94319

      Eden Anderson
      @eden-anderson

      @evelyn Ahh, dear Evelyn, you always make the greatest threads. 😊 I love this so much!

      Wow, those stories are amazing! Thank you for sharing.

      I always used to think that I didn’t have a very interesting life or history or ancestry. My life was boring, my parents life was boring and my grandparents life had been boring too and theirs before them. But I can remember one night, sitting down with my Dad and asking him questions about his grandparents. He told me all kinds of interesting stories of when they was growing up and starting a family. How they really struggled financially during the Great Depression and how it really affected his grandma and I started to think, “Wow, there really is a story here! This is super interesting.” It wasn’t like anything mind blowing or crazy but there was still so much there to learn from.

      I wonder if sometimes maybe we miss really good story opportunities because we aren’t looking. We think that our lives or the lives of people we know are boring…when in reality, no one’s story is boring in the least. We just have to listen and keep our eyes open.

      As for writing non-fiction myself, I started writing an autobiography of sorts about my journey with anxiety and panic attacks. But I didn’t get very far…I would like to take it back up sometime in the future though.

      @bama-rose Oh, that is so cool that you are writing stories about the 60’s scoop! I looked it up and wow, it’s so sad. I’d never really heard of it before.

      I’m familiar with the history of Native American kids being sent to schools to be “civilized” and I’m horrified by what happened. I feel like it may be a subject people don’t really talk about that much. I think it’s awesome that you and your family are fostering…that’s always been something that interested me.

       

      "But how could you live and have no story to tell?" - Fyodor Dostoyevsky

      #94505

      Evelyn
      @evelyn

      @bama-rose Wow that’s really cool! I don’t mind long answers at all! That’s kinda what I was hoping for with this thread: people ranting about people and their stories. (:

      @emberynus-the-dragonslayer I suppose there is no way not to be inspired by “true stories” or “real life” when writing fiction. Is there any specific thing that is playing into your current story?

      @eden-anderson Aww, thanks fren. <3 I try. 😉

      When I made this thread I actually had your signature quote in mind… 🙂

      I always used to think that I didn’t have a very interesting life or history or ancestry. My life was boring, my parents life was boring and my grandparents life had been boring too and theirs before them. But I can remember one night, sitting down with my Dad and asking him questions about his grandparents. He told me all kinds of interesting stories of when they was growing up and starting a family. How they really struggled financially during the Great Depression and how it really affected his grandma and I started to think, “Wow, there really is a story here! This is super interesting.” It wasn’t like anything mind blowing or crazy but there was still so much there to learn from.

      Ugh yes! I had the same thing happen! I had never really thought about my ancestry or the experiences my family had, but I started a couple years ago to ask family simply questions (actually because of the wedding this past week (WHICH (before you ask) WAS AMAZING BY THE WAY (AND WE ALL CRIED SO HARD! (We were all sobbing about of happiness. XD))) (so many parenthesizes XD) Anyways just this week I was discovering the stories of my extended family. It was so neat! Everyone has a story to tell. (:

      I’m actually 1/4 Spanish (as in Spain…) and a mix of Irish (hence my last name) and German and English, so I’ve heard whiffs and bits of stories about those places (very vague because its a bit far out) and then childhood memories from my grandparents and great uncles and aunts and great grandparents. I’ve been working on a family tree and it stretches out to the early 16th century in Yorkshore. (My great(seven times…) grandfather was in the original continental congress and wrote letters to George Washington which are now published and somewhere on Amazon… XD) I’m planning to keep working on the family tree. (Beyond just adding my sister-in-law and her family. 😉 )

      It’s so neat learning things about family that you never knew!

      I once had a story idea of collecting childhood memories from family members and working them into a story arch of a girl visiting her grandmother and learning about a quilt and what each scrap came from. (i.e. graduation dress, baby blanket, old hat, etc.) I never carried it out but I learned a lot of interesting things about my mother and grandmother in the process of thinking about it. (:

      #94563

      Eden Anderson
      @eden-anderson

      @evelyn

      It’s such a great quote isn’t it?! ❤️ It makes me feel so inspired. xD

      OHMYGOODNESS!! IT HAPPENED?!! Congratulations, I’m so happy for your family! Gahhh, that’s so exciting! 😍 (Also, how was the Greek food? 😉)

      Wow, your ancestry is SO cool! Spanish, Irish, German, and English?! 🤩 That’s so cool that your doing a family tree! I’ve always wanted to do something like that. I love history so much and it’s so cool when you get to learn about your own!

      (My great(seven times…) grandfather was in the original continental congress and wrote letters to George Washington which are now published and somewhere on Amazon… XD)

      Is that your claim to fame? 😉 Like, girl, how did you even find that out?!

      That’s a really cool story idea! You should do it.😊

       

       

      "But how could you live and have no story to tell?" - Fyodor Dostoyevsky

      #94615

      Evelyn
      @evelyn

      @eden-anderson YEP.

      It happened. XD

      The Greek food was delicious!! And only one dish (the falafels) didn’t go as planned. But thankfully Whole Foods exist and apparently they have pre-prepared falafels. 😉

      You should totally do your family tree! Even if you don’t get far, you get to hear sooo many cool stories and then when you have kids pass it down and before you know it, it will be a huge thing. please, please, please do one! It’s so much fun. 😀 😀

      Well hopefully I myself will be my claim to fame. * cue dramatic pose* 😉

      One of my Great Uncles did some family tree research too. In fact my Great Grandfather owned some copies of letters addressed to his great grandfather from the slaves he owned, talking about how nice he had been to them. (: It’s pretty neat.

      Right now I’m trying to figure out how to further what I have. Figure out libraries that help with this sort of thing. Look into when my family immigrated over. Etc.

      @emberynus-the-dragonslayer @bama-rose @elisha-starquill @morreafirebird Have you guys ever worked on a family tree?

      #94628

      Elisha Starquill
      @elisha-starquill

      @evelyn – YES, family trees are so much fun and so interesting! It’s so cool that you could go all the way to the 16th century! What are some of your methods?

      Sadly I haven’t been able to get very far (probably because my ancestors were from France and there was the whole revolution thing going on) but what I have been able to find is pretty cool! They were originally from around Lyons, and at some point they immigrated to Saskatchewan, Canada where my great-great-grandparents (or was it three greats? xD) lived in a community with Native Americans. And I found out that my grandfather’s first language was French, which might be a part of why I love that language so much.

      I want to compile all the stories I’ve heard and all of my own (real-life) stories and pass it down to my progeny. And order them to do the same in my will. 😛

      On a somewhat related note, have you ever tried making a family tree for one of the characters in your book?

      INFJ ➳ Wanderess ➳ Trinstamentalist ➳ Thalassophile ➳ Chocolate Hater ➳ Daughter of God

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