Louisa's stories

Do you like making up stories? Did you ever write one down and share it with your mom and dad or with a friend or at school? Or, perhaps, you haven't made up stories because it is difficult to create characters that seem real. When Louisa May Alcott was little, she loved to write. And when she grew up, she wrote many books. However, the stories in her books are not completely make-believe. The places and people are very much like her own family, home, and friends.

In her book ``Little Women'' there are four sisters. Their names are Beth, Amy, Meg, and Jo. Louisa was one of four sisters, too. We know that each of the sisters in her make-believe story ``Little Women'' is based on one of the four Alcott sisters.

For example: The responsible older sister, Meg, is patterned after Louisa's big sister, Anna; sweet and frail Beth mirrors her sister Elizabeth; and the artistic but rather vain Amy resembles the youngest Alcott, May. Jo (short for ``Josephine'') is a writer and relishes making up plays and stories - this was Louisa, of course!

At first, it wasn't easy for Louisa to write good make-believe books. Her beginning plays and stories were often too fantastic and about people and places that Louisa had never known, with titles like: ``The Skeleton in the Closet'' or ``A Phantom Hand.'' A friend suggested to her that she write about her own experiences.

Louisa didn't like the idea - she preferred writing about dramatic characters and mysterious events. She didn't think anyone would find her family life interesting.

Later, she realized that she had been writing about these very people since she was small. You see, her father, Bronson Alcott, taught his four daughters to keep daily journals. These diaries had given Louisa plenty of practice in writing about the adventures of her family, friends, and community.

Book titles like ``Little Women,'' ``Little Men,'' ``Eight Cousins,'' and ``Jo's Boys'' show that Louisa May Alcott took her friend's advice and wrote about characters and events she knew well. So, if the characters in ``Little Women'' and Louisa's other books seem alive, and the stories about the families familiar and heartwarming - it is because they are stories that grew from real episodes in Louisa's life. Today, more than 100 years later, her books are still widely read and have been translated into many languages.

The next time you wish to tell or write a really good make-believe story, maybe you can take advice from Louisa - draw on your own experiences to make your tale ring ``true.''

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