Turning Your Journey into Drama

Never underestimate your experience when it comes to writing a novel. I’m not talking about writing a fictional account of your life in semi-autobiographical fashion, rather using what you’ve learned to create a fascinating story. Some of the best novels have characters not so much copied completely from real life, but pieced together with certain traits that made the people interesting. Building on brief encounters along your journey can also bring interesting results.

shadowy-figure-e1343350074131Readers might conclude that a character has been based on an author’s close friend or acquaintance. Sometimes this is true. However, the most colorful characters are often put together like pieces in a puzzle or perhaps similar to creating a Frankenstein’s monster — depending on the character, of course. Parts of a unique personality are taken by the writer and used to build his or her protagonist, as well as the featured players. An imaginative author can come up with an individual who seems so real that readers believe it must be based on someone the writer knew. The author may have actually just taken certain strengths, weaknesses or peculiarities of someone and ingeniously placed them inside his own creation.

The same can be true of your own life’s experiences. I recently edited an international thriller by an American living in Europe who used his degree in physics for his story on terrorists building a nuclear weapon after kidnapping — a physics professor! It also helped that the author had lived abroad for 20 years, so his knowledge of locations around the world made for a chilling and realistic work. Yes, I even had to ask myself if this guy had once been kidnapped by terrorists to help build a nuclear bomb. I’m happy to say his life wasn’t that exciting, or terrifying. He simply used his education and knowledge, along with his experience, to enhance his creative talents. It made for a gripping novel.

I’ve edited memoirs and fiction by authors that flow or percolate with drama. The true stories have their place, and so does your imagination. Whether you think you have had an interesting or dull life, you can always embellish those experiences you’ve come across over time, no matter how large or small they may seem. Writing from a strictly autobiographical standpoint could hold the reader’s attention if you think your life has what it takes. Maybe you just need to build on an episode from reality and let it take you to new heights, giving your reader the thrill of a lifetime.

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