Fiction writers take note. Well, I took note when I’d read the feature “true” story, A Speck in the Sea, by Paul Tough. Tough begins the true saga,in the January 5, 2014 issue of The New York Times Magazine— with a question printed on the front cover: HOW DID JOHN ALDRIDGE SURVIVE. I was immediately drawn into the story by the provocative question. All the elements of a best seller was evident as I’d read the opening sentence.
“LOOKING BACK, John Aldridge knew it was a stupid move. When you’re alone on the deck of a lobster boat in the middle of the night, 40 miles off the tip of Long Island, you don’t take chances.”
BACKSTORY, PLACE, SETTING, TENSION, CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT, SURPRISE-- all the elements of a best seller is evident in this non-fiction story.
As Tough wrote Aldridge’s tale, I, was swept away imagining how Aldridge would survive. I read on. What was he thinking when he was treading water reaching down to pull off his left boot. The boots, I later learned ultimately saved him. How he lived each minute in the black ocean surprised me. And I love to be surprised when reading and writing a novel. How the Coast Guard worked to pull him out of the sea must be read to be believed.
Hope I didn’t reveal too much of the fisherman’s story, but wanted to show how a good non-fiction piece can play into the genre of FICTION. Praise to the author of this story.
I blogged about this particular story because it happened to be one of the best NON-FICTION stories that like FICTION.
If you read this blog and read this story in the magazine section of the TIMES, let me know your thoughts.