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Turning Life into Fiction

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A highly entertaining and indispensable manual on how to write good fiction If you want to write at all, whether from real life or not, you must be willing and able to use your imagination. That means you must be willing to take risks and sometimes look the fool. You must be willing to transform experience, not simply record it. If you were a good liar, daydreamer, or troub A highly entertaining and indispensable manual on how to write good fiction If you want to write at all, whether from real life or not, you must be willing and able to use your imagination. That means you must be willing to take risks and sometimes look the fool. You must be willing to transform experience, not simply record it. If you were a good liar, daydreamer, or troublemaker as a child, you'll probably make a good fiction writer. Daydreams, lies, and trouble. That's the stuff of fiction. In Turning Life into Fiction, Robin Hemley offers a highly entertaining and in-depth manual—with writing exercises on how to convert real life into good storytelling. He covers a wide range of subjects, including how to record and generate ideas from daily life and how to write effectively using true anecdotes, real places, and real people. A self-proclaimed liar and thief, Hemley also addresses the legal and ethical concerns of "borrowing" experience from the lives of strangers and loved ones. Lively, informative, and inspirational, Turning Life into Fiction is an invaluable text for any fiction writer. First published in 1994, this new edition is updated and expanded to include nearly a dozen short stories that Hemley refers to throughout the book.


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A highly entertaining and indispensable manual on how to write good fiction If you want to write at all, whether from real life or not, you must be willing and able to use your imagination. That means you must be willing to take risks and sometimes look the fool. You must be willing to transform experience, not simply record it. If you were a good liar, daydreamer, or troub A highly entertaining and indispensable manual on how to write good fiction If you want to write at all, whether from real life or not, you must be willing and able to use your imagination. That means you must be willing to take risks and sometimes look the fool. You must be willing to transform experience, not simply record it. If you were a good liar, daydreamer, or troublemaker as a child, you'll probably make a good fiction writer. Daydreams, lies, and trouble. That's the stuff of fiction. In Turning Life into Fiction, Robin Hemley offers a highly entertaining and in-depth manual—with writing exercises on how to convert real life into good storytelling. He covers a wide range of subjects, including how to record and generate ideas from daily life and how to write effectively using true anecdotes, real places, and real people. A self-proclaimed liar and thief, Hemley also addresses the legal and ethical concerns of "borrowing" experience from the lives of strangers and loved ones. Lively, informative, and inspirational, Turning Life into Fiction is an invaluable text for any fiction writer. First published in 1994, this new edition is updated and expanded to include nearly a dozen short stories that Hemley refers to throughout the book.

30 review for Turning Life into Fiction

  1. 4 out of 5

    Grace Author

    If you are writing a memoir, stop! Instead turn your life story into an interesting book of fiction. Robin's book has tips on how to make your boring life into a fun read.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Florence Lyon

    This 1994 hard copy edition was a gift from a writing friend. It has some great advice and suggested writing exercises. I chuckled at the part about eavesdropping and writing snippets of conversations into your jot journal for later inspiration. Honestly, I skimmed through the second half of the book quickly and didn't read it page by page. I will know where to find it if I'm looking for ideas and guidance later on. T

  3. 5 out of 5

    Will Stevenson

    A little basic and long winded.

  4. 4 out of 5

    MGH

    This book is well written and makes it easy to come away with some good nuggets of practical advice. Overall, I feel really encouraged and better equipped to move forward with my writing.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Olson

    Fun, interesting, honest and engaging. Well-worth the time of any aspiring author.

  6. 5 out of 5

    April Brown

    What ages would I recommend it too? Eighteen and up. Length? A couple of days read. Characters? No. Setting? Real world writing issues. Written approximately? 1994. Does the story leave questions in the readers mind? I'd like to read the updated version with internet research covered. Any issues the author (or a more recent publisher) should cover? Yes. Internet research, tone back the repetitiveness, and clarify this mostly aimed at short story writers, not novelists. Short storyline: A discussion, w What ages would I recommend it too? Eighteen and up. Length? A couple of days read. Characters? No. Setting? Real world writing issues. Written approximately? 1994. Does the story leave questions in the readers mind? I'd like to read the updated version with internet research covered. Any issues the author (or a more recent publisher) should cover? Yes. Internet research, tone back the repetitiveness, and clarify this mostly aimed at short story writers, not novelists. Short storyline: A discussion, with practice opportunities, to study short story writing. Notes for the reader: A few sections mention that there is a difference for novelists over short story writers. Some aspects are less clear which are being spoken too.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Theryn Fleming

    This is a book of very practical advice for beginning writers. For example, Hemley advises against surprise! endings and "as you know, Bob" dialogue, encourages writers to think about their audience, and avoid "so what?" stories (ones with no point). There's really nothing to disagree with here. I think he tends to get a little wordy/repetitive at times, but it's all good advice. There are also writing exercises at the end of each chapter. This edition was published in 1994 (noticeable due to th This is a book of very practical advice for beginning writers. For example, Hemley advises against surprise! endings and "as you know, Bob" dialogue, encourages writers to think about their audience, and avoid "so what?" stories (ones with no point). There's really nothing to disagree with here. I think he tends to get a little wordy/repetitive at times, but it's all good advice. There are also writing exercises at the end of each chapter. This edition was published in 1994 (noticeable due to the complete lack of references to the internet!), but there was a new edition published in 2006.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kandice

    I learned alot from this. It talks not only about how to sufficiently change what has happened in your life in order to fit a book, but it also explains about how individuals can see them in your book when the characters were completely made up. There are a lot of lessons I will take from reading this, and recommend it to all writers. I write science fiction/ fantasy and never thought this would pertain to me. Any writer will benefit from reading this.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Karla Huebner

    This was quite the fun read. While it's intended for fiction writers, I recommend it to all who know them, as Hemley makes clear how and why we transform ourselves, the people we know, and the people we overhear on the bus into fictional characters. So go read it and don't complain if you imagine one of my characters is based on you. It might really be based on someone else. Or on me.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Rochelle

    I read this book for a university level, Senior Fiction Writing seminar. Overall, I now have a better grasp on the technical concept of turning life events into fiction, however, the author in no way inspired me to do so. I came into this text with a project idea already brewing and close the cover far less interested in pursuing it. Is that a positive outcome? This reader says no.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ceil

    This book was great for anyone who wants to write. The tendency to pick events out of our real life to write about is explored. What I learned is that I have a lot of anecdotes to relate-which are NOT stories. They may be used in stories, but they are not stories in and of themselves. Very thought provoking for any fledgling fiction writers.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Vivian

    This is a craft book for fiction writers. I'm killing two birds with one stone: preparing to teach a writing workshop--"Writing from Life: for Fiction and CNF writers"--in January, and doing my homework for an interview with the author (also in January) for upstreet.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    bought as a sourcebook to use when teaching creative and fiction writing...wasn't necessary.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Susan Stans

    I really like this book gave me a lot of ideas and was very amusing with his examples. Every aspiring author should read this book; gave me lots to think about.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Robin Yaklin

    I'm learning so much and feeling much better about questions that I have been wrestling with. Encouraged at keep a writer's kinda journal.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Lindy

    Hemley guides us in using our own family history to enlighten our short stories. Inspirational reader for all writers or teachers of writing.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sheri Hathaway

    A great resource for the writer but found the chapters too long with the topic wandering sometimes. When I have the time to read it, though, its got some good discussion on writing concerns.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Robert Vaughan

    Great self-help for writers. Reminders with nice re-caps at the end of chapters and writing exercises to expand one's arsenal.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Allyson

    We used this in my fiction workshop in college. Great writing exercises.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Thea

  21. 5 out of 5

    Bill

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Braud

  23. 4 out of 5

    Stephan

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

  25. 5 out of 5

    Brigid Conway

  26. 4 out of 5

    Aramis

  27. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

  28. 4 out of 5

    Linda Schaab

  29. 5 out of 5

    Tim Huntley

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jill

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