How to Fictionalize Yourself

In Everything is Illuminated, Jonathan Safran Foer writes about a young writer, travelling to Ukraine to find the woman who saved his grandfather’s life. This writer is named . . . Jonathan Safran Foer? But this is a novel, right? And Jonathan Safran Foer is the name of the author, right? And our seventh-grade English teacher told us never to confuse the author with the narrator because they are two very different entities, right? RIGHT?

While author JSF is similar to character JSF, they’re not the same person. This double Foer-ing makes JSF a character in his own story while also keeping the author divorced from the narrator. It’s mad crazy smart and mad crazy effective and mad crazy difficult to replicate if you’re not Jonathan Safran Foer. Luckily, we’ve got a handy guide for you to fake it until you make it. How to fictionalize yourself in five handy steps.

Head’s up, would-be-caricatures: You can have the great JSF read your writing and win $500 at the same time by heading to our scholarship page at!

1. Start with yourself. This is me. I appear to be waving hello.

2. Exaggerate your best feature. I’ve always been fond of my eyes, so I am going to describe them more than any other feature of mine. You could focus on a scar, or on your height. I’ma focus on the eyes.

Looking good. *double finger guns*

3. Make yourself smarter.Β This applies to everyone of sub-Foerian skill. (Most. This applies to most.) No one wants to read about a boring person. So you need to amp yourself up.

Yes. That is a quill. And what, son? AND WHAT?

4. Put yourself in an interesting situation. Pretty self-explanatory. If you’re like me, you spend a lot of time watching Youtube videos. (Cute, Win, Fail, amirite?) Fun to live, not fun to read. Put yourself somewhere exciting. I’m heading to the circus.

Nothing says “exciting” like a flaming sword and a tutu-wearing, trapeze-swinging bear. Nothing.

5. Add an air of mystery.

It’s perfect.

You don’t need to fictionalize yourself to win the $500 scholarship from Zinch and Figment! Write your coming-of-age moment and you could be read by Jonathan Safran Foer.

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