Bringing Real Life to Fiction

When I mentioned my new agent status to my brother, he was over the moon. You see, out of all of my family members, he’s the only one who’s read a little of what I write. He read my first manuscript and loved it. He’s quite disappointed that it became a lame duck, but I’ve explained to him over and over again that I had no idea what I was doing. (Not that I still know what I’m doing, but I’m a little better at it now at least.)

What he loved about the book was that I had a dog named after one of his RPG characters. I took it one step further and gave the dog gas. He loved that. Yes, he’s sick. So when I told him about the agent liking my second manuscript..

He asked, “Am I in it?”
To which I responded…”Well, do you remember when you peed in front of McDonald’s when you were four?”
His eyes got wide.
I smiled. “Yes, I put the peeing in front of a restaurant incident in my book.”

His fiancée made a face like, “OMG, no!” but he had this grin on his face and said, “I’m immortalized!”…I told you he was sick. However, this is only part of the craziness that’s my family. If I told them I needed funny scenes for my manuscripts, they’d all rush to remind me of this incident, or that incident, and

 
“Do you remember when Denie got a birdie in her eye”
or
“What about when we were playing ‘Who Am I’ for the family reunion and Russ pulled his pants down and made mom touch his bare ass?”
or
“Remember when Steph stuck the bead up her nose?”

I think I’m naturally inclined to tell stories since every time my family gets together, we rehash all of our most humiliating moments. It’s all part of belonging to the family. We love to pick, we love to laugh, and reminding ourselves of those moments of stupidity or gullibility keep us roaring for hours.

When I write, I tend to incorporate some of these incidents into my stories. I don’t do it to embarrass anyone, but rather to give the fiction a touch of reality, no matter how outrageous it might sound. If it’s funny, even better.

One of my concerns as a writer is that I’ll get shoeboxed into a certain tone of writing. The manuscript my agent has now is pretty light-hearted with some dark moments, but another manuscript is much darker with some lighter moments. I like blending the two. To me, that’s real. Life isn’t all dark, but it isn’t all puppies and rainbows either.

So does this mean that I’ll see something you do that I find hilarious and it’ll appear in a book? It’s a distinct possibility. However, some of the things I incorporate into my stories aren’t real, but imagined embarrassments. I think to myself, “If I were this character, what would be the most embarrassing thing that could happen?” Then I write it.

How about you? Have you used any of your (or your family’s/friends’) accidents/incidents in  your writing? If you’re not a writer, do you have an incident  you’d like to share with the rest of the class?

3 Comments

Filed under Family, Writing

3 responses to “Bringing Real Life to Fiction

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Bringing Real Life to Fiction « Unearthly Musings -- Topsy.com

  2. Of course I have some family ‘things’ in my books. I didn’t want to get stuck writing one type of genre either, so when an agent requested a full of one, I also casually mentioned a different genre and now she has the full of both! I want them to know I can write PERIOD, no matter what the genre.

  3. Great post! And yes, I do incorporate reality into my stories. Sometimes the snarky dialogue is ripped from my own marriage, the names of characters are ripped from my own friends and family, and yes, sometimes the embarrassing quirks and funny tales make it in the pages too.

    Isn’t that what writing is really all about? Taking the everyday and making it extraordinary.

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