Tips for Writing a Facing Story
Write your story in the first person as if you are the storyteller.
Keep it around 1,000 words at the most. Stories should be as long as they need to be, but anything much more than 1,000 words gets a bit long. Again, focus on a moment, a feeling, a lesson, a universal truth. Try to key in on moments that define the storyteller’s situation.
The classic writing advice “show not tell” applies to facing stories. Yes, you’ll need to tell some details, but your main goal is to take the reader into a scene of the storyteller’s life.
Try your best to write the story in the voice of the storyteller. This is where the recording is really helpful. Use the storyteller’s phrases or a word that identifies their voice.
Here is an examples of a story from Muncie’s Facing Disabilities that has a strong voice:
Genius. There. I said it.
Of course most parents believe their child has superior intelligence but unlike those parents, I have the paperwork to prove it. In fact, I have the paperwork to prove that Daisy’s intelligence is “very superior.”
Daisy isn’t even five years old and can sit down with workbooks meant for second graders, read the instructions, and complete the assignments like it’s her job. Her ABC’s were nothing to learn and no one even had to teach her to read; she just started reading one day. And, in trying to do things like talk me into giving her just one more cupcake, she incidentally does basic arithmetic and algebra.
It’s incredible to see her soak up every single thing that she hears and sees, even the things you wish she wouldn’t. It’s with these displays of intelligence that I realize just how brilliant Daisy truly is.
And while I have the paperwork to prove that my child is an academic genius, I also have the scores to prove that she is pretty low-functioning socially. This is where the conundrum comes in. You see, it’s hard for an outsider to see an IQ score when the child in front of them seems completely unaware of her surroundings and just threw herself on the floor and started to scream because another human being entered her personal bubble.
Word for word
If you really want to take on a challenge, use as many of the storytellers words as possible. Kelsey and J.R. both have written stories almost exclusively using the storyteller’s words by transcribing the interview with the storyteller and then rearranging them into a story with a beginning, amiddle, and an end.
See J.R.’s first Facing Project story: Inextinguishably Wholly in which he used this technique.
Be sure to give the story a title. If you have trouble with titling stories, our advice is to always look at the last ¼ of the story — what theme seems to pop out? Please include their first name (or pseudonym) and age as a subtitle.