Life's Experiences in Novel Writing


Recently I was asked whether it was a good idea to include true life experiences in novel writing. I hope my answer helped. I answered this person with the following:

My novel, Sweet Revenge, is set in high school when I was a senior, way back in 1965. At first I wrote some of the story elements as they really happened. I borrowed ideas of things that happened back then, but as I worked on the manuscript, I altered them, built them up, added suspense, and overall changed them into new ideas of what could have happened, not really what happened. I think the "what could have happened" is far more compelling. You can use your imagination to go wherever you want with your story line. To use a Cliché the sky is the limit.

However, I wouldn't limit yourself to just what happened. Go beyond that to what could have happened.

In my novel, Sweet Revenge I depict a troubled teenage boy, trying to get a nice girl to like him. He does all the wrong things, even to the point of trying to force her to take drugs and threatening to rape her. In the end, this boy, with a couple of his friends, take this girl and one of her friends on a drug- and alcohol-induced joy-ride, where one of the boys is killed and they have to run from the cops. That didn't really happen, not to my knowledge, but it could have. And that's where reality and fiction can come together.
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About Paul West

Paul West is a freelance writer and novelist. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Paul claims to be a "Prune Picker," though he now makes his home in Taylorsville, Utah.

You can follower him on Twitter: @PaulWWest

Published: Tuesday, October 21, 2008

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