Monday, November 29, 2010

Using Real Life to Inspire Fiction

I write a fair amount of non fiction--notice my sidebar.  All my published books are non fiction.  But my life's ambition is to publish a novel. My novel.

What's it about?  Well, um, me.  But it's fiction.  Huh?

If you know me "in real life" you probably know that my parents had a fairly unusual family business when I was growing up.  They managed and co-owned a golf course.  We kids had a blast.  We learned a lot about people, human nature, and ourselves.  We had good friends.  It's the basis for a great YA novel.  Except...

Nothing really exciting happened.  Unless you count my brother's hole-in-one.  Or the time I got poison ivy crawling into some shrubs after a ball.  Or when Mr. A. yelled at a friend of mine for practicing too long on the putting green.  Like I said, not so much.

How do you take a great setting from your own life and make it fiction?  Easy.

I ask myself a lot of questions.  What if I had done that?  What if I hadn't been afraid of that thing happening? What if he had said this?  What if they went there? 

Make yourself an alternate universe.  Up the stakes.  Invent people.  Change personalities.  It's your story--you can make anything happen.  Nothing in my book happened "for real"--well, maybe one or two things did--but no one really knows, do they?

You can do this with settings, but you can also take "real" situations and turn them on their ears.  Anyone else take a real place (or situation) and fictionalize it?


Laura Pauling said...

And you did a great job fictionalizing it! I can't say I've fictionalized something quite as personal as my upbringing, but all fiction has some aspect of embellishment.

Kris said...

Thanks, Laura! I think you're right, all fiction has some kernel of truth in it!

Ansha said...

Most of my MG is based on things that happened to me when I was that age. But like you said, I turned the scenes on their ear, upped the stakes a wee bit and threw in some fantastical elements. A much better read than any memoir I could create. :)
Great blog topic Kris!

Talli Roland said...

Oh, definitely - all the time! It's so much fun to take reality and embellish.