Sunday, November 27, 2011

Fiction or Fact?

I ran across an interesting quote about writing – “We are all the heroes of our own stories.” It was credited to Anonymous. I don’t know who this Anonymous guy was, but he sure got around, judging from the vast number of quotes, stories and songs with his name on them.

How much of you or your life makes its way into what you write? I try to include some of my own beliefs and attitudes in my characters, especially the heroes and heroines in my adventure stories. When I’m developing a villain, I may think back to some dark moment where I did something I really shouldn’t have. More often, I’ll recall something rotten that someone did to me and use that for inspiration.

I like to use life experiences whenever I can, especially things that happen when I travel. A few years ago I was vacationing in The Florida Keys and a charter boat skipper told me the most outrageous story I’d ever heard. He swore it was true, but I chalked it up to the Gin he was swilling. It might have been urban legend, but I found a way to work it into one of my books.

I’ve discovered that including personal experiences can be like walking a tightrope over a pool of piranhas. I’m careful not to make things too accurate, lest someone take offense. I once got reamed by a friend who swore that one of my unsavory characters was based on a mutual acquaintance. I pointed out the disclaimer in the front of the book but she still insisted I was a sub-human species because I trashed one of her BFF’s in print. The fact that I was angry with the person I modeled the character on had nothing to do with any supposed similarities. Riiiight!

One of my romances, Anywhere the Heart Goes, turned out to be roughly seventy-percent autobiographical. It’s about a man and a woman, both divorced and not eager to get back into a committed relationship, who meet courtesy of two friends and decide they want to be together – sort of. A lifetime of navigating the treacherous waters known as dating and marriage provided me with a wealth of personal anecdotes and experiences to draw upon. To paraphrase the late Jack Webb, “The names were changed to protect the guilty.” Fortunately for me, none of my exes read that book – or if they did, I haven’t received any suspicious-looking packages. Yet.

So which do you prefer – fiction or fact?

Tim Smith is an award-winning author whose books range from romantic thriller to contemporary erotic romance. He is also a freelance photographer. His latest romantic thriller, "Memories Die Last," was recently released by Extasy Books. More information about his work can be found at his website, www.timsmithauthor.com.


Tina Donahue said...

There's a whole lot of me and my life experiences in my characters. I can't imagine being able to write any other way. Great post, Tim!

Tim Smith said...

Thanks, Tina. With each story I write I'm amazed at the incidents or people I'd long ago forgotten about that I can use. Maybe life really does imitate art.

Fiona McGier said...

I think it's more a matter of there being nothing really new under the sun, just we express things in a new manner, because each of us is unique. So life experiences influence how and what we write, as they have always done for every writer/painter/artist of any kind!

And that is what gives each of us our "voice", that makes our writing unique to us. Despite not being happy with my part/time jobs where I feel so replaceable, I'm at least proud of my books, since no one could have written them the way I did.

Thanks for an interesting post.