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Using Real Life in Your Fiction Writing

Updated: May 2, 2023


Fiction is great to write. I can make up all kinds of shit and lie and lie and lie....it's fiction...


However, some of the best fiction, is derived from your own real-life events.


The best way to make your characters and your stories come to life to your readers, or make your readers want to be your characters, or have sex with your characters, is to make them more REAL.


And what better way to do that than by using your own personal experiences to draw on. Tap into the emotions and give those emotions to your characters.


This approach will give your characters more depth. And who doesn't have a crazy aunt that makes all the family functions more fun? Use that crazy aunt to make your character more interesting. (Don't do it in a way you get sued.)


Or maybe you have gone through a horrible loss or awful event, something very personal. Use that to put your character through something that will draw on your readers' own fears, desires, or wants to help bring that character to life.


You can also use your life experiences to create stories. When my mother committed suicide, I had a hard time. I used book 2 in my Damien Kaine series to work out those emotions. My killer's mother commits suicide, and that character has a hell of hard time dealing with it.


The emotions my character dealt with were the same ones I was dealing with. Set aside the cathartic experience for me, it made my killer very relatable. So much so, some readers mentioned how emotional the story was and that they had sympathy for the killer.


I used my events from my own life to draw my reader in. Now, maybe my reader hasn't had a relative or friend commit suicide, but I am sure they have had some kind of substantial loss at one point or another during their life.


Side note: Don't be afraid to put those emotions in your story, no matter the genre. The story I just told you about is a thriller. Your characters are people. They don't live in a vacuum just because they are fictional.


I wrote a short ghost story. When I first wrote it, I didn't go into the emotion the main character was feeling after the experience he'd had. I thought, this is a ghost story, I don't need that level of emotion, nor did I think it fit. However, I listened to my critique group, and they said I needed to go all the way with it. By doing that, I drew the reader further into the story. I have had several readers say they got choked up at the end, in a ghost story....Craaaazy. That type of thing has a lasting effect on a reader.


It's okay to put your real-life experiences and emotions into those made up stories. They will give you characters balance, and breathe life into your novel.


DISCLAIMER: I do not recommend naming anyone or making your character recognizable to your family and friends. Unless you have written permission. (Speak with a lawyer if you are unsure.) Basically, you can't blame me.


Happy writing!

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