Writers are often inspired by events from real life. But to use that inspiration we must view real life as a launch point and then join it to plot. We look at the life event and then we leap far from it, carrying along only those scraps we need for the actual story. Stories aren’t recitations of what actually happened––that’s what articles are for––stories are for revealing truth. Showing us reality beyond reality. Stories have a heart filled with personal growth and discovery. Life can be lively, but to make it a story you need to take a leap.

When Katherine Paterson wrote Bridge to Terabithia for which she won the Newbery medal, she was inspired by a real life event. She said, ”I wrote Bridge because our son David’s best friend, an eight-year-old named Lisa Hill, was struck and killed by lightning. I wrote the book to try to make sense out of a tragedy that seemed senseless.”

Paterson didn’t write the story of David and Lisa, tragic though the real life story was––she wrote a completely different story about Jesse and Leslie, a story born from the feelings she had about the real life event. The actual event sparked the story but the story didn’t happen until the author made the leap from real life to a totally new thing––story.

Listen to the full episode for ideas on how your writing can be inspired by real life.

Listener Question of the Week:

Kathy asks:

Is it really okay to self-publish now? Can you make any money?

Listen to the episode for the answer!

You’ve got questions. We’ve got answeres.

The faculty of the Institute of Children’s Literature is waiting to answer your question! Ask it RIGHT HERE.

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