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From fact to story (for fiction, too): Editor's Notes #325
October 28, 2020

Facts are ventriloquist’s dummies.
Sitting on a wise man’s knee they may be made to utter words of wisdom;
elsewhere, they say nothing, or talk nonsense, or indulge in sheer diabolism.

— Aldous Huxley

In this issue:

1. From fact to story (for fiction, too)
2. Tickled my funny bone
3. Interesting Web site
4. Writing prompt
5. My Covid-19 offer to you

1.From fact to story (for fiction, too)
Journalists and other nonfiction writers usually understand that it is important to get from a simple listing of facts to the story. It would be reasonable to assume that fiction writers understand that, too. In my experience, that’s not always the case.

Beyond a recitation of what happened where and when and to whom, a story needs to have a meaning.

Absentmindedly washing dishes last week, I recalled an incident from when I was about nine. I wrote what was, to me, a passionate poem, a poem that started with me and reached into the universe. An adolescent relative found it and teased me about it. Every time I recalled that incident, I reminded myself to be careful of what I wrote or at least of what I left out in the wild where anyone could use it to mock me. That was the meaning I gave to that little fact from my childhood.

This time, the memory stopped me with soapy hands in mid-air as a new understanding washed over me. That story marked my own realization of myself as a passionate person with a life beyond the physical. That is the real meaning of the facts of the story.

I’m telling you this little piece of my life to challenge you to interrogate the facts you write, and here I’m including fictional facts that you put into your fictional stories, to be sure those facts are worthy of inclusion in whatever you are writing.

The more the facts in your story support worthwhile meaning, the more successful you are in shining a light on that meaning and the more impact your story will have.

2.Tickled my funny bone
There will be a minor baby boom in nine months, and then one day in 2033, we shall witness the rise of the quaranteens.

3. Interesting Web site
Here is a wonderful fleshing out of what makes a story.

4. Writing prompt
Write a scene from your life. How can you make its meaning clear (without saying, "Little children, the moral of this story is…")?

5. My Covid-19 offer to you
Most of us continue to be isolated to a greater or lesser degree even as we continue to adapt to a world ravaged by a pernicious virus. For some, aspects of this time of pulling away are welcome as we engage with our own inner lives. For others, the lack of face-to-face interaction feels like a slow death. Both truths are ripe for writing if we take the time to investigate what is happening in and around us. I would love to help you as you write your way through this pandemic.

What follows is a copy and paste from issue number 309. It’s still in force for you and anyone you choose to tell about it.

Along with the health threat hanging over the world, we are facing a huge financial hit. I’ve decided one thing I can do is to make quality editing less expensive during this trying time.

For subscribers to Editor’s Notes and their friends, I am suspending the fee for the sample edit to anyone using the code EN19 until I cancel this offer. I intend to keep this offer open as long as the world is in crisis with Covid-19 and its aftermath, so watch this space. I will give a warning here before I pull this offer. You can submit your writing sample at Be sure to click the link below the heading "Promotion Code" to get to the special form for a free sample edit. If you find yourself at a form before clicking the special link, scroll slowly back up the page, and you should see the link for the code (EN19).

But it gets better…

When I return an edited writing sample, I include quotes for the full range of my editing services. Until further notice, I will give a true quote, but I will not charge writers the full amount. I am discounting my services 50% for subscribers to Editor’s Notes and their friends. I will give a warning here before I pull this offer.

Feel free to pass this offer along to any writing friends you think may be interested. As long as anyone uses the code, I’ll honour the offer.

This is what I can offer you in this time of crisis. I hope it encourages you as you face possible illness and financial uncertainty.

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