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Turning Life into Fiction

3.60  ·  Rating Details  ·  121 Ratings  ·  14 Reviews
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
Paperback, 256 pages
Published May 2nd 2006 by Graywolf Press (first published 1994)
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Florence Lyon
Oct 25, 2015 Florence Lyon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Florence by: Barbara Florio Graham
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.

April Brown
Jan 02, 2014 April Brown rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing, reference
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
Susan Stans
Jul 14, 2015 Susan Stans rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Feb 04, 2016 Rochelle rated it it was ok
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.
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 ...more
Jan 15, 2009 Kandice rated it really liked it
Shelves: how-to
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.
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.
Mar 14, 2008 Ceil rated it liked it
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.

Dec 15, 2008 Vivian rated it it was amazing
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.
Hemley guides us in using our own family history to enlighten our short stories. Inspirational reader for all writers or teachers of writing.
Robin Yaklin
Dec 05, 2009 Robin Yaklin rated it really liked it
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.
Robert Vaughan
Jan 18, 2016 Robert Vaughan rated it liked it
Great self-help for writers. Reminders with nice re-caps at the end of chapters and writing exercises to expand one's arsenal.
bought as a sourcebook to use when teaching creative and fiction writing...wasn't necessary.
Mar 19, 2007 Allyson rated it really liked it
We used this in my fiction workshop in college. Great writing exercises.
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Robin Hemley has published seven books of nonfiction and fiction. His latest book, Invented Eden, The Elusive, Disputed History of the Tasaday deals with a purported anthropological hoax in the Philippines. James Hamilton Paterson, writing in the London Review of Books, call Invented Eden, "brave and wholly convincing." John Leonard writes in Harpers, "Besides a terrific story, Invented Eden is a ...more
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