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I still find myself unable to write anything that didn't actually happen.
I feel when I write a story of my own invention it is contrived... there must be another way of doing this.
I also liked that you participated in the challenge, you should do it more frequently.
*** I meant "It" had too much heart on it.
There is a plague of people who are constantly emulating other writers. When they are not writing they are reading blog posts about how Hemingway wiped his ass. They nip off to Amazon.com and buy his favourite brand of toilet paper. People who feel like they need to be raging alcoholics to write, people who type on a typewriter because... Kerouac did it? Kerouac also did copious amounts of amphetamine. Having done copious amounts of amphetamine I cannot recommend this.
What is a better idea is to, after long study of the existing body of fiction, think about what you love in a book, what you hate, and then write the book you've always wanted to read. Write your perfect story. So often I've had a protagonist do something and wondered why on earth has he done that? Or rather why did his creator make him do that. You may also have done this - so write the protagonist who does all the things you've always wanted.
It's best to develop your own narrative voice, keeping a journal helps with this. I often walk around narrating what is happening around me in my head to build a strong narration. Reading other authors is great for building a wide and diverse vocabulary but nothing beats developing your own method of describing a sequence of events. Letting your own humour and personality leak into how you convey a scene is what endears readers to you and makes what could be a news report into a convincing story that people will want to read.