Writers often use bit and pieces of real events from their lives–and the lives of others they know–in their fiction writing. When my daughter Emily was two years old, she got mad when I called her “pumpkin,” and said, “I’m not a pumpkin, I’m Emily!”  That dialogue became a refrain in my very first picture book for children: Mommy Doesn’t Know My Name.  (Except that I changed the name of my main character to “Hannah.”)  The activities that Hannah and her mommy do in the book–putting a puzzle together, dancing to music, reading stories, and singing goodnight songs are all things I used to do with my children when they were young.  My story, however, is not a straight re-telling of real events. I have taken those real events and added to and exaggerated them for the sake of telling a good story.

The following “worksheet” from former Kent School teacher, Carrie Brown, can help students see how to turn real events in story:

Turning true life experiences into great stories using


True life experience The great story idea
The Real Problem 


The Story Problem
(Pump it up! Make it big!) 


The Real Characters 


The Story Characters
(Show us their personalities!)


The Real Setting 


The Story Setting
(Make it unique!) 


The Real Action 


The Story Action
(What happens) 


The Real Resolution 


The Story Resolution
(How the problem is solved) 



From the Writing Curriculum Files of Children’s Author, Suzanne Williams www.suzanne-williams.com