Personal Experience and Fiction

I was critiquing a story and suggested to the writer that the ending didn’t work.

‘But that really happened,’ she said. I replied that real events don’t always – or even often – make good fiction. When talking to friends about what’s been going on in our lives we tend to frame things in a particular way, embellish this, exaggerate that, so as to add interest to what we’re saying.

This is even more important when creating fiction. We might start from personal experience but we craft a piece as we write it, we wrap it in meaning, we add structure and significance.

Writers of fiction also produce works that have no basis in their own lives. But for these to work there has to be a connection between the writer and the work: the story expresses an emotion the writer feels or once felt.

Some of the short stories in takahe 86 (the April 2016 issue) are clearly based on personal experience. Some less so or not at all. Either way I hope you enjoy them.

Fiction in takahe 85

Preah KhanIt’s a new experience to be able to post comment about our hardcopy magazine! Hope it enhances your reading pleasure.

In #85 we have a departure in our Guest Fiction. Jane Seaford, Fiction Editor, agreed to be our invited writer. Jane has a long history of success with her short stories, both in competitions within NZ and overseas, having several times been short- or longlisted for the prestigious Fish Competition. Her stories have also been read frequently on RadioNZ. It seemed a pity for you not to be able to read her writing just because she is an editor. In addition to appearing in the print magazine, Jane’s story, “Living in the Wrong Place”, is also live on this website for those who do not subscribe to takahe magazine. Go to the “Current Issue” page to find it.

Also live from this issue is Jan FitzGerald’s story, “Return Trip”. I particularly liked this story for its interior monologue and exterior dialogue. A story of family relations in another culture, with a defiant twist. Good beginning, good middle and good ending. It moved my emotions about.


Karen Zelas
Fiction Editor