A Writers’ Workshop -“Turning a True Story into Fiction.”

       Last summer, as I planned a trip to the Dayton area, I contacted several organizations in southwestern Ohio which I thought might be interested in hearing one of my presentations and was pleased when I heard from the Dayton Metro Library that they were intrigued by my proposal for “More Than Simply ‘Based On’: The Evolution of Immigrant Soldier from Fact to Fiction.”  In this presentation, I give a brief synopsis of the origins of Immigrant Soldier, followed by how I slowly moved the story from nonfiction to fiction and the difficulties I encountered along the way.  I especially enjoy giving this talk because it allows me to share my personal journey as a writer and self-publisher.  When I talked to the librarian in charge of program scheduling for the Dayton Metro Library, she asked if I would be willing to expand my talk into a short writers’ workshop for their writing series, which coincided with my visit to the area.  I quickly agreed to her idea. We modified the title to “Moving a True Story to Fiction” and scheduled it for the Vandalia branch of the library.
      Turning the original talk into a writers’ workshop necessitated the expansion of my existing PowerPoint.  I added specific information on the differences between the genres of fiction, memoir, and creative non-fiction.  I also added slides outlining some of the basics of story-writing, such as plot, story arc, theme, and the use of dialogue.
      A few weeks ago, I was very excited to present my new workshop at the Vandalia branch library to a group of 18 interested, prospective writers.  During the question-and-answer session at the end, several of the audience asked me about websites or books that could help them with their writing and possible self-publication.  This type of information is included in a handout I prepared to go with my third talk, “Indie-Publication: Its Rewards and Frustrations.”
       After the presentation, on the flight back to California, it occurred to me that this handout would be great for the writing workshop, too. In the future, I will make it available at the writing workshop which I will be presenting again in November at two libraries in the Olympia, WA area.
I include the information below, in case any of you might be interested.
Get started writing and think of yourself as a professional:
Become a better writer: 
  • Subscribe to Writers’ Digest Magazine,  (https://www.writersdigest.com/)
  • Take writing classes at your local community college or university.
  • Read books on writing, editing, self-publishing. Check out books published by Writers’ Digest.  (https://www.writersdigest.com/)
  • Read! Read books in the genre you want to write. You cannot write well, if you don’t read a lot.
  • Find “Beta Readers.”  These should be readers who have qualifications, interests, professional or life experiences, or special knowledge about your type of book, your subject matter, or know good writing (such as another author, a librarian, or an English teacher). They should not be your closest friends or family.  You need kind but HONEST evaluation and criticism.
 Some books to help you with writing:
  • Turning Life into Fiction, 2nd Edition, Robin Hemley,  Graywolf Press, Minn. MN, 2006
  • Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Second Edition: How to Edit Yourself Into Print, Renni Browne  and Dave King, Harper Collins, NY, NY, 2004
  • Mastering Online Research: A Comprehensive Guide to Effective and Efficient Search Strategies, by Maura D. Shaw, Writers’ Digest Books, 2007
Find an Editor:
Types of Editing:
  • Content Editing:  ensures accuracy and consistency of content. Helps writer focus on structure, character development, and theme.
  • Copyediting and Line Editing: corrects basic errors of spelling, grammar, and syntax.  Line editing is a more detailed version of copyediting.
Some good websites with general information of interest to self-publishers:
Some books to help you with self-publishing:
  • The Fine Print of Self-Publishing, Sixth Edition: A Primer on Contracts, Printing Costs, Royalties, Distribution, Ebooks, and Marketing, Mark Levine, Northloop Books, Minn. MN, 2016 (The 4th Edition of this book was my “bible” and I have recently purchased the 6th edition in order to stay current).
  • CreateSpace and Kindle Self-Publishing Masterclass, 2nd Edition, Rick Smith,  CreateSpace, 2015
  • The Indie Author Guide, Self-publishing Strategies Anyone Can Use, by April L. Hamilton, Writers’ Digest Books, Cinn. OH, 2010


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