Revealing reality with fiction

For our re-purposing assignment, we were asked to bring in 2-3 pieces. I brought this quota in, but I already knew what I wanted to use. At the time, I was writing a column I was writing for the Michigan Daily on male eating disorders and body image issues. The writing–set in an essay format–draws attention to the male population suffering. If you wanna understand why this is such a huge problem, feel free to read the article. But all you need to know is that it’s a really big problem that we’re not talking about.

So I had no problems in choosing a piece. The issues came fromĀ how to repurpose the piece.

Going into discussion, I’d played with a few ideas. My favorite idea was making a poster that would be placed in male locker rooms and bathrooms that would include signs of eating disorders. But as discussion continued, I realized that a poster would function rather impractically. Males having eating disorders is complicated, and simplifying these complex issues would be rather difficult. Discussion continued, and sometime during the discussion, I heard creative fiction as a writing medium.

Outside basic elementary assignments, I’ve never written a fiction piece, and perhaps this unknown factor drove me into making this choice. Regardless, as I started thinking about fiction writing, everything began falling together.

First off, this would make re-purposing for a different audience more feasible. I didn’t realize my audience for the original piece, but when I considered who it’d be, I discovered it was for people unaware the severity of male eating disorders and body image issues. This is a large audience, and in re-purposing, I knew I’d have to zone in on a more specific population. This was where fiction writing came in. My immediate new audience idea is males who don’t realize they have these issues. In using these males as main characters, I could give them the characteristics of male eating disorders, not allowing them to self-realize they have an issue until the end of the story.

And while on the topic of male characters, having numerous characters helps me address the variety of issues males can have. These people can suffer from abusing supplements, overeating, overexercising, and even common eating disorders–anorexia and bulimia. By having multiple characters, I can give each of them specific traits that would show the variety of disorders males can suffer from. Coupling this with body image issues can really show how these males are suffering.

I have the method, and I have the basis for characters. Now, all I need are specifics in how the story will run. These intricacies will probably get hashed out in our peer reviews, but I think that I have a few ideas. First, a college campus seems like a good setting since fitness starts becoming more important when students begin reaching adulthood. I also think there will be a lot of scenes at the gym. I want the story’s men not to realize they have serious body image issues until later in the story. Okay, so maybe I don’t have a very concrete idea of how the story will play out, but that’s what workshops are for, right? I’m sure that outlining a little more tonight and discussing in group tomorrow will help solidify my plot.

Anyways, I found group discussion to be really helpful. I felt like the ideas presented were ones I could incorporate into what I wanted my piece to be instead of being suggestions pushing me away from my ideas.


One thought to “Revealing reality with fiction”

  1. Michael, I really like the idea of a fiction piece. Especially with such a sensitive, private topic, I think there needs to be a variety of ways to reach out to people, as purely informational articles may not resonate with everyone. I don’t know if you have thought about this yet, but while reading I started wondering about the structure. Do you plan on having each character’s story be separate, or will the stories intertwine, possibly interact, with each other? While I think it is the more difficult option, I am partial to the second option. It could help keep the piece moving and more easily show the differences/similarities of the different body image issues. Good luck, I’m excited to see what you come up with!

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