How to Shape Your Fiction from Your Non-Fiction Life

The other day I was reading another blog on the writing life. The blogger brought up an interesting question. “How much of your fiction is true?” she asked. Fiction true? Isn’t truth reserved for non-fiction?

I knew where she was going; how much of the fiction we write is based, in part, on a true story, a true event, a true circumstance or a true character? It’s a great question and, in my case, I have to admit that much of my fiction is inspired by something that actually happened to me or someone I know. I then fictionalize, exaggerate, or fashion these events to create a unique story.

Why shape our fiction from our non-fiction lives? Simple. Reality inspires fantasy. How many times have you thought of a better ending to a story or a movie? And how often was your new ending based on some element of your experience? The bottom line? We all can add compelling color to fiction from the fabric of our own lives. How much of our lives? Just a clip or a snap-shot.

For example, this week in Parade magazine I read a story entitled, “The Joys of Summer” by Mitch Albom, author of Tuesdays with Morrie and The Five People You Meet in Heaven. The story was about how we fill our kids’ summers with activity to mold them for the future instead of letting them have the summer off to simply be kids. Notice how he adds color to his story from the fabric of his life.

“Weekdays were indistinguishable from weekends. I’d wake up when my eyes opened, read comic books over bowls of cereal, go outside with my baseball glove (just in case a game broke out), and find something to do—oil my bike, make things in the garage. Was it lazy? By today’s standards, maybe. But there was a freedom that today’s kids don’t enjoy. We sat on curbs. We daydreamed. What kid has time for that today?”

Although Albom’s story is non-fiction, you can still borrow from your life to conjure up images for fictional stories.

So, the next time you read a piece of fiction ask yourself how much of it is true, or gleaned from the life of the author. You will never know the answer, but you can bet that some of the best fiction is crafted from the fabric of the author’s life.

Why not yours?

***

Watch for weekly blog posts here at The Writer’s Refuge.

Blogs will be posted every Thursday.

Leave a comment or you may reach me at:  jcmchips1@yahoo.com.

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Published in: on August 11, 2011 at 8:14 pm  Leave a Comment  
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