Origin of Your Stories

Yesterday I sat down and wrote 1,636 words of a story’s first draft. The difference in writing the story this time was that I used real events from my life to construct the basis of the story – normally, my stories come from pure imagination.

I remember a lecture at university that asked whether authors need to experience things to write about them. They concluded it was different for every writer, one author we talked about went out and did everything he wanted to write about first – including having gay sex despite being straight. Another example writer simply watched from the sidelines.

I want to explore using your actual experiences that you didn’t go out and purposefully create just for a story as a basis for writing. Going out and experiencing things is different from going out and experiencing something with the intention that you’re going to be using the experience in a writing piece. It’s a subtle difference to some, perhaps, but there. Living versus working. Actively being a part of something versus experimenting and keeping notes.

Or you can Hunter S. Thompson in and live among a motorcycle gang to create a book.
I’m not up for this level of writing detective work.

Normally, my writing comes from fantasy and incorporates little of my own life events. Of course, I take parts of me when I write: if this happens to a character I ask myself how would I react? How would people in my life react? I inject characters and places and actions with the authenticity of experience but I am not autobiographical.


Yesterday I took little events and pieced them together and it was almost my life. The character was almost me. I used the words spoken in reality as dialogue (to the best of my memory). I used similar descriptions. It felt different to creating a piece of fiction, there were more emotions, there was sense of fear and embarrassment and guilt. I have no idea if the story is better or worse than my imagined pieces and I can’t say for sure that readers would be able to tell which story out of line up was the factual one. But I do know that the experience of writing it was different.

Do you incorporate real events into your stories? Do you base stories around things that actually happened and change very little? Or do you mainly work from fantasy?


8 thoughts on “Origin of Your Stories

  1. It feels too ‘open’ when using real life experiences to me… But mostly there’s something of me I can’t get out of the story. Above all the general feeling I guess. A certain description. Some dialogues. Some things I wish to do.
    It’s hard to say! But I never fully use something real in fiction.

  2. I write almost exclusively about real events, using a little literary licence of course. It’s a bit of a double edged sword though, it makes it harder to know how a reader will interpret your story because you’re so close to it yourself.

    Occasionally there’s also the problem of truth being stranger than fiction, sometimes things that actually happened that you think would make a great story, don’t in fact work because they sound too far fetched 🙂

  3. I write entirely in fantasy, but as you said, the emotional experiences (the fear, the joy, the anxiety) are all drawn from reality. Oh, and the locations are all real too…which means that I can visit them and draw upon the ‘mood’ of the streets which change depending on the time of day and the weather.

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