If you have other things in your life—family, friends, good productive day work—these can interact with your writing and the sum will be all the richer.
- David Brin
How much of your life do you put into your fiction? What do your favourite fiction authors do? It is supposed to be fiction after all.
But life creeps in – sometimes a barely-concealed fact turned into fiction – usually because the story is too painful to the author or she is afraid to put herself into a real-life story with all the people who did her wrong or are, well, scoundrels. Then there is the fear of retribution or the desire to tell her story but keep herself out of it. My personal opinion here is to write it as a memoir and use pseudonyms (and state you are doing so). That’s what I’m doing – but that’s another story.
So that leaves us with what can you put from your life into fiction and how can you do it?
Disclaimer here: this is my opinion from my experience. It is not the only way to go about it and some of you may think I cross some lines between fact and fiction.
Here are a few instances from my short story collection Beyond the Tripping Point and my soon-to-be-published first mystery novel Beyond Blood.
In “No Breaks” (BTTP) two female friends are driving to one woman’s family cottage and on the way the car’s main brakes fail. In my life I once did ride with a friend up to her mother’s cottage and on the way her brakes failed. Except for the way my friend managed to get us up to the cottage (she had a few driving tricks up her sleeve), the two friends, Millie and Jessie, in “No Breaks” are completely different from my friend and me. The storyline in “No Breaks” also gets somewhat sinister and crimes are committed (it is mystery fiction). And the title is not spelled incorrectly as the main character in the story feels life has treated her very badly and so she has had “no breaks” in life – and that includes the trip to the cottage. Even when she tries to give herself some breaks it doesn’t exactly work out as she planned. As many of us do, sometimes I feel as if I am getting a lot of bad breaks in life – but there are good things happening too. Millie doesn’t feel that way about her life.
So how did I go from some facts to fiction? I took this scenario in my life and pulled out relevant parts that I thought could be the root for a story. Then I used my imagination to develop my plot and characters.
In Beyond Blood I take so many things from life – not just mine – and fictionalize them into the mystery. One of the threads running through the story is something many mothers can relate to – the working mother and how she balances raising her child(ren) and doing her job. Dana Bowman, one of the fraternal twins is a private investigator and she is always concerned that she doesn’t give enough of her time to her son, David, yet she has to work and she chooses to work with her twin brother in something she is interested in. It doesn’t help that Great Aunt Doris disapproves of Dana working and chastises her constantly for it – another thing working mom’s have to deal with, although it might be a mother-in-law. So when something happens to David, Dana is really in conflict – should she be “working on the case” (Note: I don’t want to give away some of the plot) or just spend her time being mom. Also the twins are in their late 30’s, David is six years old, and Dana is divorced – more fodder to connect to today’s working moms who are having children into their 30s and even 40s. I don’t think Dana would resonate with readers as much if she was in her 20s. (And I have been told by several readers that they like Dana and Bast, too)
So how did I get from fact to fiction here? David did come from the fact that I have a son and am divorced (although he was much younger than his 36 years and my ex and I were separated, not divorced, when Beyond Blood was first conceived in my head and I started writing it.) Yes, it has been a long haul of on and off writing because I had to make my living as a single mother of one son. Not as a PI but as a freelance writer, book editor and writing instructor. The direction I take with all of those have changed and I do less editing and more teaching, but it is doing something I enjoy.
Which Dana was doing with her twin Bast when they opened their investigative agency on the attic floor of their house. Then thing started happening and…
But that would be a spoiler. You’ll have to read Beyond Blood when it comes out. Stay tuned here and my other social media – I will be posting as soon as I get more details about the book launch.
Sharon A. Crawford
You can read about my characters and their stories in my short story collection Beyond the Tripping Point (Blue Denim Press, 2012). Click on the book at the top and it takes you to Sharon A. Crawford’s profile – including book reviews – at http://www.amazon.com.
More info on Sharon A.’s upcoming gigs, workshops, guest blog posts, etc. at http://www.samcraw.com/Articles/BeyondtheTrippingPoint.html And keep checking http://samcraw.com/Articles/BeyondBlood.html for the latest news on the release of my first mystery novel Beyond Blood, also published by Blue Denim Press http://www.bluedenimpress.com More info on the Beyond Blood page as we get closer to the date. And remember that clicking on the book icon at the top gets you to my Amazon profile.