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Memoir from Childhood (Kinda)

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I'm thinking about writing a picture book about surviving a tornado as a child.  Needless to say I can't remember all the conversations verbatim but I do remember some so I will have to make-up the rest.

Is that now considered fiction or could it still be classified as nonfiction?

Any perspective would be appreciated. Thanks.
#1 - March 17, 2020, 06:30 PM

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Based on a true story is a classification of fiction. Sometimes letting go of the facts leads to greater truth in the work though. And memory may also be faulty. You actually have to do research to verify yourself for nonfiction. Good luck with it.

And further down the boards, I found this: https://www.scbwi.org/boards/index.php?topic=89826.0. Might be just what you need.
#2 - March 17, 2020, 06:44 PM
Website: http://www.debbievilardi.com/
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Thanks.
#3 - March 17, 2020, 06:58 PM

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I think it's called informational fiction.
#4 - March 17, 2020, 09:33 PM
I've Got a Tail! - Amicus Ink 2020

www.juliemurphybooks.com

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Thanks.
#5 - March 18, 2020, 03:32 AM

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Charles, memoir is one of my favorite genres to read and write and I have several published in magazines. You needn't worry about not remembering things exactly as long as you're not making stuff up. For ex, in Tongue-Tied, I've taken bits of conversations that happened at different times but put it all in one place for the sake of brevity--here's the passage:

My stutter soon became a topic of conversation and speculation.
"Her brain works faster than her mouth," said my mother.
"She has a nervous personality," said a family friend.
"So what? Julius Caesar was also a stutterer," said Mohan.
"M-Moses too!" I piped up.

My suggestion is to write the incident as you remember, fact-check with family members and newspaper accounts and see if it's a strong enough piece to submit to magazines. If you decide it needs more imagination, it will be fiction. I've written many, many short stories with a kernel of truth. You can even decide to write a novel around that incident.

Some helpful books for writing memoir so that you understand it more fully, including its limitations and pitfalls.
Writing a Life by Katherine Bomer
The Memoir Project by Marion Roach Smith
The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr
Old Friend from Far Away by Natalie Goldberg

And of course, read lots of memoirs for kids to see how they've handled it. Some of my favorites:
Anne Frank: the diary of a young girl--I read this when I was 10 yrs old and it began my long interest in Holocaust and Jewish history.
El Deafo by Cece Bell
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah (adult but fine for YA)

Happy remembering and writing. It is a great joy to be able to share true stories. Go for it.
#6 - March 18, 2020, 06:48 AM
Max & Dagny, Why in the World, Tongue-Tied, Bound, Ten Easter Eggs & 100+ bks/mags
https://vijayabodach.blogspot.com https://bodachbooks.blogspot.com

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Thank you.
#7 - March 18, 2020, 06:58 AM

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What Vijaya said (2 posts up) reminded me: this was covered in a Non Fiction webinar by Carol Hinz (Lerner Books) recently. She mentioned (to paraphrase) that as long as you explain in the Back Matter how much of your book is fact and how much is memory or imagination, you are being truthful to the reader. The worst thing is for readers to feel deceived by discovering that what they thought was fact actually was not.
#8 - March 20, 2020, 10:26 PM
I've Got a Tail! - Amicus Ink 2020

www.juliemurphybooks.com

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Thanks.
#9 - March 21, 2020, 02:04 AM

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