Having trouble bringing your pieces of fiction to life? No worries. All you have to do is sink into the deep, dark abyss, also known as the internet. Although, the good thing is that you don't have to dig too deep in order to find this riveting TEDTalk video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PG3tp2oA3xo&feature=youtu.be with Ryan Gattis.
His lecture entitled "Pain & Art: Write What You Honestly Know" brings up the issue of writers having difficulty creating pieces of fiction that have that certain amount of authenticity, which in turn makes their pieces more engrossing. He explains that every piece of fiction should have these five qualities: hooks, the unexpected, cause and effect, how did it feel, and concrete, specific details. He then goes on to explain that these qualities are necessary in order for a work of fiction to be successful, but that those qualities aren't enough if the work itself doesn't seem "authentic." His use of this term refers to the idea that no piece of writing is finished until the author digs down deep and genuinely understands the motives, the feelings, and the fears of his or her characters.
Gattis continues with his lecture by telling a story about the time he met a gang member for a book he was trying to write. In a rather meta fashion, he then begins to recall a story that he told this gang member during their interview. He goes into heavy detail about a time where a football player broke his nose and how this caused his nose to form a distinct 'J' on his face. He relies on specific concrete details of the bright blood flowing form his nose and the thoughts and emotions that were going through his head at the time of this incident. Also, he got "involved" in the storytelling. He recalled it with emotion, with passion. He brought his experiences of what he knew into the story to make it come to life.
The gang member, after having been told the story, was enraptured with Gattis' experience. He threw question after question at Gattis, wanting to know more about this incident. Gattis explains how the space around them had changed. They equally felt connected to each other in this moment. He then goes on to tell the audience that, "I trust you to see who I truly am," and in return, he became "empathetic" and "human." His experiences gave him that special edge that can take good writing to great. He got "involved" in his storytelling, and this is what it took to make his writing authentic and real.
Grub Street Nonfiction Team Member
The image above is "Flight" by Gillian Collins.