Creating Fiction Inspired From Life
Every person experiences life differently. That is what makes story so interesting, because every person experiences different stories or hears stories from others around them.
When I was in Australia I met an elderly woman who was broken over the fact that she never got to meet her Father. And it all came down to the fact that it was all because her grandmother was too afraid of letting go of her daughter. Her mother took her as a child to the ship ports and they were going to leave that day on a ship to America, but somehow her grandmother made them stay. Forced or persuaded her mother to not leave. This was a story beckoning to be told…
Note… below, I have changed some things, so it’s no longer about the woman who I met. Instead it is a story about a little boy named Callum.
She bounced him on her hip. His eyes lit in excitement. He never met his PaPa, David. David was an American GI, based in Brisbane during World War Two, but he had to leave with the rest of the GI troops when his time was up. He wanted Margaret to come back to Pennsylvania with him. At that time she hadn’t been able to go with him, but she wrote when she found she was pregnant and about Callum’s birth. “Margaret!” a woman called from behind her, pulling her from her thoughts. She looked back to a familiar face. Her mother. She dramatically wove her handkerchief in the air. “Margaret?” She squeaked. “It’s grandmum…” Callum looked up with a big smile as his grandmother approached them, “Is she coming with us?” Margaret blushed and looked down at her son, who was shining with excitement. She had been caught. “Where?” Grandmum asked. “To see PaPa.” “No… Margaret… You would never do such a thing…” she sighed a statement while waving her lacy fan frantically in front of her face to try rid the heat. After no answer she asked to reassure herself, “would you?” Margaret rolled her eyes and sighed. Her plan failed, she tried sneaking here without her mother knowing they had gone. Mother must have heard from her friend who lived near the port. Her mother cocked her head as her lower lip dropped. “You wouldn’t leave me… and I don’t want to leave Australia… I love it here and you should too. You were born here. Besides, do you know how tough of a time it was for me and your father when we came here on the ships from England?” “But, Mother… please stop it. I want him to meet his dad, besides I really miss David. I need him and he needs me and Callum. We are his family.” “No… I am. I don’t have any family left here besides you.” she lifted her handkerchief in her hand up to her forehead, “He doesn’t need you!” “Yes he does… he needs us both. Besides he bought us our passage there.” She lifted the tickets as proof. “You won’t go!” she quickly snatched the tickets and ripped them.
Listening to the real woman tell me her story brought shivers to my spine. I was asking myself all these questions: Why? Why would a woman be so selfish to split up a man and woman who love each other? Why didn’t the daughter’s mother still go? I couldn’t stop thinking about her eyes when she tried being light-hearted about the moment. Later in her life she traveled to America. She wanted to visit her dad, but he died before she got the chance. So sad. It was then that I got inspiration to write Callum’s story.
Have you ever thought an experience (you or someone you knew experienced) would make a great story? Has an grand-parent or war veteran told you the stories of their youth? Have you ever wanted to take ideas from life events? Have you ever read a book and thought “Wow, I would really like to create such amazing characters! And I have character ideas from the past… but how can I use them?”
If you answered yes to any the above questions or have wondered these things at one time in your life then I have some secrets for you!
I am by no means saying your characters should steal real people’s identities. I am just saying you can get inspiration and ideas for stories from other’s lives like I did above. But if you do this then you need to be careful in changing the story and also the characters for your protection.
Here are a few things you can do:
Story Bank – Whenever I go somewhere I make sure to write ideas down that I get. If someone tells me a story or some sentence or thought that would make a compelling story… I write it down either in my iPhone or in a notepad. I hate forgetting story ideas… and it is a monster that I deal with a lot of the time.
Mull it Over – After hearing a story from someone and after writing the idea down I think about it and think about it some more. The more time it spends in my mind… I think the idea gets richer. And remember to ask yourself questions so you get to know the story better.
•Is this story’s character inspired by the person that told you the story? •Or do you have a character that is totally unrelated to the person who told you the story?
Change it Up A Bit– Once you sit down to write think of who your character is… the person who told you the story. Do you want them to be the character? If that answer is a yes, then you may want to change the character (Their name, where they live, their description, and their characterization) so that you wont get in trouble or worse sued for using their story.
•Names – If you met a man who was a construction worker named Bob the Builder and he loves working in the land of legos and has a love interest in Mario’s girlfriend Princess Peach and you decide you want to use those details for a story then you might want to change it up a bit.
You could change it up a bit by saying:
Bob Castaluti is an Italian painter who has a magical talent of painting scenes that come to life, and loves a woman who isn’t his- Queen Sylvia.
•Times – Roy Johnson an elderly man who is also a writer loves telling his grand-daughter stories of the days when cowboys and indians would fight.
Changing it up: Sara loved hearing her grandpa’s stories, because after he’d finish telling her a story, she would experience them. It all started the night that White Trees knocked on her window. He needed her help now to save themselves, to save herself, and most of all to save the spell bounding story spinner – her grandpa.
Now it’s your turn…
1.) First, tell me an interesting real life story in about 2 sentences… maybe it’s from your life… or from someone you know.
2.) Now, take that and change it up… and it’s up to you. You can change the setting… the name, the place… the time period. Anything… You are the story spinner.
What is the story?