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By Alexandra DeMarco, Guest Writer

Storytelling has been an essential part of my life for as long as I can remember. With two journalists for parents, writing and reading were always emphasized as essential.

As a child, storytelling manifested itself in my life in many different forms; I wrote songs, poems and short stories throughout my adolescence. Oftentimes, I would get obsessed with a particular idea and attempt to make a story around that specific concept, whether it was in the form of a song or a longer piece. These ideas were often abstract thoughts that I was particularly fascinated with because of their distance from my life; they were things I found strange and wanted to investigate. 

Stories That “Burst With Life”

Although storytelling is in and of itself a creative pursuit, I quickly found that my best work stems not from these random ideas but from moments of experience in my real life. The details that dot the timelines of our lives, these are essential to any form of storytelling.

Simple observation of occurrences that may seem commonplace or mundane, such as the trickle of raindrops down a window or the smell of coffee brewing in the morning, can add a 3D and extremely valuable element to any story when accurately conveyed. And particularly moving moments, such as the sight of a sad stranger on a train, can serve as valuable additions to or inspiration for any story. 

Intertwining pieces of real human experience into a work of fiction, no matter how distant the storyline from the author’s real experiences, makes the story burst with life, and the piece appeals to all of the human senses.

Furthermore, a longer life experience, one exceeding more than a moment or two, can be transformed into a masterful work of fiction. There are thousands of classic examples of authors retelling some version of their lives’ stories in the form of novels, such as Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë and On the Road by Jack Kerouac. 

Details Matter

However, when transforming a story that genuinely occurred into a creative retelling, I have found that it is so utterly important to tell the story as if you vividly imagined it, making sure that each scene is established with the same precision granted to a scene of total fiction. Remember to share with readers the details of the experience that may be taken for granted or seem unimportant, but in reality frame and uphold the scene, just as little moments in our lives uphold the big picture. Life is in the details, and when reporting a true life event, it is important to enhance the details as greatly as you would in a work of pure fiction. 

I am currently working on my first novel manuscript, and I have discovered that incorporating elements of my own feelings into each character’s reactions and emotions, no matter how different the characters may be from myself, has allowed me to grasp each character fully and breathe unique life into each of them. Overall, the importance of incorporating the author’s real emotion into any creative work cannot be understated.

Alexandra DeMarco is a writer and a sophomore at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

John M. DeMarco is a writer, strategist, and executive coach based in Nashville, Tennessee.