Is This the Secret to a Good Story?

Lately I’ve been listening to a really fun and interesting podcast. It’s called Writing Class Radio, and it does pretty much what it says on the tin. (Warning: They swear. A lot. And while they are usually not graphic and never gratuitous, they are very free in their discussion of such sensitive topics as sex, rape, abuse, and abortion. If these things are likely to cause you distress, do not listen to this podcast.)

I listen to a LOT of writing podcasts. Some of them are about the craft of writing. Some are all about the business. I listen to podcasts for self-publishing, and podcasts that are more trad-focused. The one thing they all have in common is that they’re mostly aimed at fiction writers – people like me.

WCR is different. The writing class in question is a memoir writing class. The students are writing about themselves, about their actual lives. For a lot of them, it’s a form of therapy. They write their stories to work through them.

All the stories they air are great stories. They may not be the most well written, but they are the most real. They grip. They enthrall. I have found myself crying at my desk more than once while listening.

And there’s one thing that connects all of the stories that made me cry, or made me laugh, or gave me a strong emotional response. The narrator is vulnerable. They are raw, and they are true. They have opened themselves up and exposed themselves. Even the ugly bits. Especially the ugly bits. That’s what makes me care.

I don’t write memoir. I might, one day, when I’ve lived a life worth sharing. But for now I write fiction and I’m going to try my damnedest to be vulnerable as I do.

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