Life is what inspires writers like Melina Marchetta. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that some of the most accomplished fiction pieces have been autobiographical in nature. Writers often draw from real life.
But transforming real-life experiences into compelling fiction pieces is a tricky task. Writers must know when to indulge themselves and when to step back and draw the line.
Here are a few tips for writing fiction based on true events. The suggestions may be useful for different types of fiction, such as essays, screenplays or novels.
Protect Your Characters
If you are drawing inspiration from real-life events, chances are many real-life characters will find themselves making their way into your plot. As a fiction writer, you must always ensure that the privacy of your real-life characters is held in high-regards.
Sometimes, changing names isn’t enough. Think of ways to make characters dissimilar to their source. Unleash your creative side and and create characters that, while drawing from real people, breathe on their own.
Know What to Leave and What to Take
A tremendous advantage of creating fiction based on true events is that you should never be short of material and life categories. You have access to details that, if used right, can transform your work from mediocre to exemplary.
Writers tend to write to make themselves heard. While that is a concrete goal to move towards, they must also focus on writing what readers want to read. When using true events, take a step back, assess your work with a detached approach and eliminate facts that might bore your readers.
Write Only When You Want To
Millions of people out there have a story to tell. Unfortunately, only a handful of people are able to bare their soul on paper. How many of the thousands who study humanities and social sciences at university go on to be professional novelists? It’s only a fraction of one per cent.
Writing is an art that can only be mastered through hard work, dedication and the will to never give up. It takes time too. First drafts often eventually find themselves in recycle bins or trash cans. Second drafts also often meet with a similar fate. Third drafts may or may not see the light of the day ever.
Writing isn’t easy. Be patient if you feel you are in a rut. Take a break, read good literature, talk to people, write only when you want to and never give up.
Give Your Story a Larger Purpose
If you have set on a journey to create fiction based on real-life, you must give your story a larger purpose. If you are writing only to tell your side, you are giving your readers a fragmented narrative.
You must think from the perspective of every character you have created and bind them all in one narrative, so that the impact of events can be felt across all characters. Do you have a life story? Most people do and that’s an example of bringing various threads together to form a coherent narrative.
Moreover, depending on your audience and style, you may want to write with a purpose. Your work can have a larger impact. You could strive to produce something more than fiction based on real-life events — such as a take on life, story of a journey towards personal empowerment, commentary on relationships, or discussion on social issues.
Share News with People Directly Involved
As a writer, you are normally under no obligation to share your work with anyone who you draw inspiration from or seek permission to publish. However, the decision to write about certain people is your responsibility.
Unfortunately, it is almost guaranteed that, if your writing is entrenched in true events, it will affect other lives. Thus, the onus is on you to inform the people involved that your work is complete and awaiting publication.
We sincerely hope the writer in you will find these tips for writing fiction based on true events valuable.