Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Is this Fact in Fiction, ma Lord?



I’ve been tinkering with a part-written short story I wrote four years ago, around the time I was in a car crash.

The core of the piece is taken from the horrid experience – mainly how I felt at the time – and particularly the feeling of coming out of unconsciousness to the sound of fire engine and ambulance sirens. Yes, I’ve changed the names and the actual circumstances to a large extent, but it is based on fact. And I've realised this isn’t the first time I’ve used a personal experience as a basis for one of my short stories.

This made me wonder how much of ourselves we reveal when we write.

My novel is, in my opinion, a complete work of fiction from top to tail - well so I thought. My sister thinks otherwise. She noticed I based the protagonist’s childhood home on where we lived as children. It even has a lamppost outside, a yellow back gate and a picture of galloping horses on the wall. Bet you can’t wait to read it. ;-)

So did I deliberately base it on my childhood home? I’m not sure – it all just appeared on the page, flowing from my subconscious. But it seems, although the plot is complete fiction *I’m pretty sure it is*, I’ve drawn on my own memories to set the scene.

The only thing I never seem to do when I write, however, is base characters on REAL people. It’s really odd – as I know some people do – but every single one of my characters is a total work of fiction.

Do you use factual events or people you know in your fiction? Go on, tell me - I promise not to tell anyone. :-)

12 comments:

charlotteotter said...

My characters are all fiction, but because my setting is my home town in South Africa, there are elements that are drawn from the real world. I'm writing crime, so it's all about the authenticity.

Flowerpot said...

I quite often use fact in my fiction, but it always changes and takes on a life of its own once I start writing.

Karen said...

I'm sure I do bring my own experiences and opinions to my writing, but I never base characters on real people, apart from the odd trait here and there. I find it impossible because it's difficult to make 'real' people behave in a fictional way!

Patsy said...

I don't often base characters on real people, but I frequently use real locations.

Lane said...

I hope my characters are purely fictional but I'm sure little bits of 'people from the past' infiltrate.

And yes, I can't wait to read it - yellow back gate, horse pictures and all!

Colette McCormick said...

I think that we all bring our own experiences to our writing. I know that in BTL although the relationship between Ellen and her mum isn't based on me and mine when I read it back there were a couple of things that I remember happening.

Jenny Beattie said...

The house in my novel is the house that I grew up in - well a bigger version of it. Some of the circumstances are eerily similar EXCEPT that I wrote them before they came to pass... I don't think anyone will believe that though.

Madeleine said...

Goodness, my jaw dropped when I saw the pic of the mashed car! Yes I think subconsciously we draw from our lives but I think we extract and mix and match them into something different so that they aren't necessarily pure copies of that experience or person but an amalgamation. Look forward to seeing your logline for this :O)

Adina West said...

Hmmm, like most of the other commenters my characters are almost completely fictional while locations may be genuine and descriptions of them based on fact. Assuming the piece you're writing is set in the real world, basing the setting on something real is one of the only ways to get the details right!

Talli Roland said...

Things always seem to creep in, despite myself. I don't think I've ever consciously used a person in real life, but several in my novels are mixtures of people who exist!

Debs said...

I think the more I write the less I base characters on real people (or certain aspects of them anyway). I think certain things that may have happened to me may sneak in a bit, but as I edit most of it tends to be scrapped.

Amanda said...

Thanks for visiting, Charlotte. And what a fantastic setting for a novel! :-)

That’s the great thing about fiction, isn’t it FP; the way it morphs into something else as we write?

I try really hard not to bring my opinions to my writing either, Karen. Although now I’ve come to think about it, my novel does suggest you shouldn’t judge people by appearance or where they live, which is something I feel strongly about – oooh, perhaps I've written a really opinionated novel - GAWD ;-)

Yes, I think I’m the same, Patsy.

Awh, Lane – thank you. That’s one book I’ve sold – HURRAH! :-)

Hi Colette – I remember my first attempt at a novel was a relationship between a mother and daughter – and there were definitely some similarities there.

Ooh, that’s spooky, Jenny – I believe you. :-))

That sums it up perfectly, Madeleine! :-)

Yes, that’s true, Adina. It's much easier to write a setting if you've been there.

I shall now read your novel, Talli wondering which bits of your characters have a little bit of real people in them. HA

It’s funny, Debs – I seem to scrap the *real* bits too.