How Do Your Characters Stack Up? Using Real Life Events in Fiction Stories

You are as happy as you can be: your story, be it a short story, novel or novelette, is finally finished. However, when you are using real life events as a source of inspiration, you may not always get a true-to-life effect. Before you send your work to a publisher, first check if the story makes sense as it does in real life.

In order to reach the final draft, you need to be tough with yourself and cast an editor’ eye over your piece. Although real life events have their own logic, when you read your story from head to tail for the first time, you will notice some plotting errors. However, there are other vital points you should check off when comparing your version of the story to the events that inspired you.

1.

Bear in mind that in fiction, the people you describe rarely, if ever, act “out of character.” If your character behaves differently, you have to be attentive to this and ask yourself whether this corresponds to a real life pattern.

2.

As in real life, events in your story may influence the attitudes and emotions your characters have towards one another. Real people would always mention events that happened to them within the story — make sure your characters do, too.

3.

If in the same type of situation your character is once enraged and the other time annoyed, there is something wrong. If you have a real person in mind, you should be aware of the fact that real people are usually constant in their reactions.

4.

You need to make clear what happens in your story, otherwise your readers will lose the thread and your story may be lost altogether. When transforming reality into fiction, make sure you don’t forget any relevant links, so as to avoid alienating your readers.

5.

You may easily have a character in two places at once if you do not control this critical thread. If you have one or several subplots at the same time, you need to pay extra care as they can quickly spiral out of your control.

Checking all these points will take you a lot of time, dedication and effort. However, is you fail to make sure that your story makes sense according to the real events, you will only manage to waste your own time. Editors expect stories that hang together.

Nicholemillard