Autobiographical Fiction

When I was a small child, maybe three or four years old, my father worked at a union-based factory in Dayton, Ohio.

Every winter there was a huge party in which Santa came and distributed gifts, a large cake was shared and some type of entertainment kept the kids from getting into trouble. One such entertainer was the famous Sherry Lewis with her sock puppets. Another time it was a TV comic cowboy. My memories of the events are few and scattered, the bulk of them most likely built by stories told about me as I was growing up.

There are no pictures of the events for me to rely on, so if I chose to retell the stories, I would have to fabricate much of the setting and action.

We can use these stories to create original characters and situations, informed by the basis of those few facts stored in our memory.

Your task is to think of an event that occurred when you were quite small. If possible, pull out photos that take you back to that time and place. Then begin constructing a list.

Setting: where were you and what did it look like? Adding in your senses, what smells might there have been? What foods might have been served? Was it indoors or outside? In a house or apartment? Backyard, playground or school?

Appearance: your approximate age. Were you small compared to others your age, the same, or larger? Were you thin or heavy? Did you have short legs and arms or long? What color was your hair? How long was it? In what style did you wear it?

Clothing styles: In my story, I wore dresses, white socks turned down to create cuffs, and saddle shoes. What would you have been wearing? What was the fabric like? Scratchy? Stiff or soft from many washings. Threadbare or rich?

Characters: Who was present in your story? Brother or sister? Aunts or uncles? Grandparents? Parents? Outsiders, such as would be in my story, just people that my dad worked with. What did the principle characters look like? How did they behave toward you? Did they laugh at your funny ways or smirk? Chastise you or praise? Were they harsh or gentle?

Action: Every story must have action or it isn’t a story. So what happens? When you write, try to emphasize what makes it unique, original, interesting. Include conflict of some kind. Remember that there needs to be rising action, a series of events that lead to the climax. And, of course, resolution.

Tone: You have to choose whether your piece has a comic sense to it or whether it is a serious event. If comic, then your story has to be light, energetic and humorous. If serious, then there must be trauma of some kind that is resolved.

This will not be an easy task.

Have fun with this one.

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