How to Write a True Story – 9 Expert Tips to Help You Write Better True Stories

How To Write A True Story

Learning how to write a true story? Are you planning to write a true story?

Our lives are full of mysteries. They aren’t any less strange than those fiction stories we read all the time. While we may have lived these moments, writing about them in the form of a true story is an altogether different tale.

Just like any other genre of writing, writing a true story also has some special pre-requisites that need to be followed. Since it is not fiction, one has to be careful about stating facts as they happened. As a writer, you have to unite all the essential parts of the story and present them in a way that the readers find interesting.

Translating true events into stories sounds easy. You have everything, from the entire plot to the character and the events. However, converting true events into a story is a tough task. Furthermore, at times, It can also become too frustrating that the writer may just want to give up.

If you want to learn about how to write a true story, then you’ve come to the right place. Here’s everything you need to know about writing a true story that your readers will love.

9 Tips on How to Write a True Story

As mentioned before, uniting all the essential parts of an event is the key to writing a true story. Here are some tips that will help you combine all the important parts of your story and present them to the reader in a way that they find it interesting to read.

1. Select the Right Things to Include

First things first, you need to select what you are going to include in your true story. Selection of the key events is the paramount principle for writing a good true story. A writer can turn any event into a story if they know which parts to include and which not.

Bad selections can ruin any true story. Many writers also make the mistake of including too much in the story that it drifts away from the subject. As a result, the reader is left confused and frustrated.

Don’t ever leave the reader confused or they will simply stop reading!

Suppose you are writing a true story about two men who robbed a bank and the police are in their pursuit. The pursuit lasted three days and then the police was able to arrest these men.  

Many amateur writers make the mistake of adding everything that happened in these 72 hours into their story. They don’t see whether all parts of the story relate to the actual story or not. They end up including other events that have nothing to do with the main story. This frustrates and bores the readers.

On the other hand, an experienced writer omits unnecessary details. They know that this story has only about 2 hours of action that can be translated into the story. They skim over the unimportant parts and get straight to the point.

Unnecessary explanations and descriptions are just boring. Only select and include things that add substance to your story and get the plot going.

Include all the important details of the story in your writeup

2. Don’t Leave out Details

Some writers discard the essential action when they are telling their story. Don’t be one of them. Not giving too many details will not interest the readers.

The main reason why this happens is that the writer is very familiar with the story. They have listened to it and thought about it too many times that they find some essential actions not worthy of being a part of the story.

Remember, your readers will be reading the story for the first time. They don’t know anything about the story. For example, the writer may forget to mention that fingerprints were retrieved from a chewing gum wrapper after the bank robbery.

Later, when they disclose that fingerprints helped trace the robber, the reader will be left confused about where they came from. The story will not make any sense to them.

A simple rule of storytelling is to plan your story beforehand and then select what’s important and what’s not. Accordingly, you can decide which parts and events must be included in the story and which can be excluded.

3. Be a Good Listener

If you are writing a true story about someone else, then you should spend a lot of time listening to their story. The more you listen to their story, the better your writeup will be. When writing a true story, you should include real events as they happened and not make things up.

If you have any questions about their story, or if something doesn’t make sense, ask them. You cannot invent ideas on your own. You have to write about what actually happened. Therefore, you should get as much information as you can about their story before you start writing.

This will help you create a coherent story that the readers will enjoy.

4. Protect the Privacy of the Actual Characters

Of course, unless they don’t have a problem with it!

If you are writing something based on a true story, then it is best to change the names of the characters. You can ask them if they are okay with you using their real names. If they allow you to use them, then you are good.

However, it is not possible to get consent from each of the characters about revealing their identity. And, if you use their real names without consent, you can get into serious legal trouble. So, it is best to change their names so that you don’t face any problems later on.

Your true story shouldn’t be void of emotions

5. Tap into Emotions

If you want your story to resonate with others, then it shouldn’t be void of emotions. When you are telling someone else’s story, think about their emotions and feelings. This will add an emotional aspect to your tale, which is the core of every true story.

A true story that doesn’t invoke any emotions can never be successful. And it will not invoke emotions in the readers unless you show emotions in your writing. However, balance is the key here. Don’t overdo anything.

A good true story is one that others can relate to. Readers will be interested in the story if it speaks to them. So, keep the emotions and feelings part in check when writing a true story.

6. Condense or Expand

Condensing or expanding your content will depend upon how much space you have. If you are converting a true story into a novel, then you can expand on the available information as much as you like. Of course, don’t overdo it or it will simply become long and boring.

On the other hand, if you are writing a true story for a magazine and you only have one page to write it, then you will have to condense the available information.

Remember, a good writer can reduce or increase the length of the story without omitting any essential details. Hence, they can write the same story as a novel, a blog, a short story or an anecdote.

A simple example of this is writing a full-length novel and then writing its synopsis for a literary magazine. Both these writings will have the same amount of action, but there is a huge difference between the amount of space that one occupies as compared to the other.

7. Read True Stories

Another advice on writing a good true story is to read as many true stories as you can. This will help you become a good writer. In addition, it will also give you ideas about how to develop your story.

There are many famous true stories out there that you can grab on and read. Choose the ones that you find interesting and read them. See how the author has developed each character. Also, learn from them about the development of the plot. See how they have packed action into their writing and how the ending was developed.

All of this will help you when you start writing your story. The more you read, the more your writing will improve.

Start writing when you have everything you need

8. Write

Thinking about writing a true story?

Stop thinking too much and start writing.

It might be difficult at first, but it becomes easier once you start. Don’t procrastinate if you’ve found a great true story that you think you can turn into a great piece of writing.

Just start writing. Things will start falling into place once you begin writing. It will also give you an idea if you need any more information to complete your story. You will never get there until you start writing.

9. Edit Your Story

Never, we repeat, NEVER publish anything before passing it through an editing phase. Also, don’t just edit it on your own. While the first round of edits can be made by you, you should also run your story by someone else to see if it needs any changes or improvements.

Once you read your own writing, you will see how many unnecessary details you have added to your writing. If those details don’t add value to your story, you might as well remove them.

Furthermore, when you go over your own work, you will realize that certain details need to be expanded upon. All of this will only come forward once you start editing your book. So, take time to edit your book to perfection before sending it to anyone.

Not all true stories are great stories

Not Every True Story Is a Great Story

You might find it surprising, but all true stories are not great stories. In fact, when readers look for something that is based on a true story, they don’t want the harsh truth. The reality is, in fact, chaotic, slow and filled with meaningless and mundane moments.

So, what readers want is a good story, whether it is based on a true story or not. As a writer, it is your responsibility to study the true story and then extract the best information out of it. You will have to make some risky choices. Choose the best conflicts and find the most compelling motivations that can make it a good story.

When you are writing a true story, you will be writing it from your own perspective. Don’t limit yourself and let your creativity flow. Writing a true story doesn’t mean that you have to restrict your creativity. You can be as creative as you want when writing a true story.

The Final Word

Now that you know how to write a true story, it’s time to start writing. Talk to people, listen to their stories and find some interesting ones. Once you have something that you think can be turned into a story, follow the tips mentioned above and begin writing.

Again, don’t limit your creativity. Let it flow and you will be able to gain the readers’ interest with your writing. If you are writing your own story, you can write a memoir, or simply take an event from someone else’s life and create a true story.