Writing Fact Based Fiction

ThumbnailWriting fiction based on fact is always tricky.  Often the problem is that we are tempted to avoid making changes.  “But that’s how it really happened!”  Maybe so but it may require a few changes to make a believable and compelling story.

It is often much easier to simply take inspiration from the world around us.  The city where I live is the inspiration for my mystery setting.  Eureka Springs, Arkansas?  That’s going to feature in still another story.

People can also inspired our characters but you have to be careful when you do this.  My mystery protagonist is loosely based on myself.  The problem?  No flaws.  She’s practically perfect.  What?!  The problem came about because my own weaknesses aren’t compatible with this fictional story so I didn’t pass them on to my character.  Which is fine but now I need to assign her something that does make sense and thus make her more believable.

ThumbnailYou also have to decide how much of your story is fact and how much is fiction.  If you are writing based on your own life and it is very factual, you may be writing autofiction.  This is a term I didn’t know when a friend used it so she explained that autofiction is a memoir treated as fiction.  Perhaps the writer created dialogue or couldn’t remember details that needed to be filled in to make the story believable.  When that happens, it is not longer nonfiction but autofiction.  Autoficiton is written in first person and the main character is the author.  So in Juliet the Maniac by Juliet Escoria, the character is named Juliet Escoria.  Another work of autofiction is by her husband Scott McClanahan and is titled The Sarah Book. 

Fact and fiction aren’t always miles apart.


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