I’ve been working for admittedly, a very long time on writing a story based on actual events- which also happens to be fiction.
You would think writing fiction that is based on actual events is simple – you know the story!! You just write it in an interesting way – YOU HAVE THE PLOT!
I’ve found it to be excruciating. If you are writing a complete work of fiction, you can change the characters, you can change the outcome, you can change merely anything and everything about the story to make it “work” in the mainstream reading world.
With writing a piece of fiction that is based on true events, I feel the need to keep as much of the story/characters/tone/plot intact to maintain the integrity of the story itself. Not to mention, the weight of writing it to its perfection can be crippling. Every sentence has to be meaningful and well placed. I’ve got one shot to get it right. Once you send your baby out to the world, it no longer belongs to you. I’m not on a deadline- it’s personal.
I’ve gone back and forth a handful of times with POV. Who would the story mean the most coming from when its had an impact on so many? I tend to think that first person creates more of a trust between the writer and reader, but I need to get in the heads of many of the characters, so there’s another dilemma.
Omissions – I’ve chosen to omit some events that would surely hurt (myself and others). I’ve read conflicting advice on the topic “If they didn’t want you to write bad things about them, they shouldn’t have done bad things- you own your story” vs. “The only words you will regret are the ones that hurt someone you care about”. For the most part, I’m covered by the “This book is a work of fiction. Any reference to historical events, real people, or real places are used fictionally. Other names, characters, places, and events are products of the author’s imagination, and any other resemblance to actual events or places or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.” But what would the gain be to include certain events? What would the cost be? How much to omit before you lose some of the intentions and actions of the characters? The why?
Conversely, how much can I ADD to the story? Any reader knows, fiction has form. Reality, not so much. I have to finagle things a bit to shape everything into a nice pretty package with the satin bow. Building tension and plot twists, as well as my entire ending (for art and closure sake), is pure fiction. I’m still a little uncomfortable with that. There are times, I write something in that I feel moves the story forward, or adds depth to a character, but feel it is disingenuous to the story- and then cut.
Anyone else out here in the blogosphere published a piece of fiction based on true events? Advice?