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Thread: Opening up while writing

  1. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by JasoninNV View Post
    Maybe I should be more specific.
    The novel I am currently writing features a timeline from roughly 150 years ago intertwined with our current timeline.
    I know it sounds strange but let's go with it.
    The current timeline IS basically almost an autobiography.
    Coincidentally the trilogy of novels, that I am no longer writing, involving interactions across time include meetings between a character from modern times with one living 150 years ago. The latter character is based closely on a real man, a wealthy landowner who in Victorian times owned all the land where I now live. I am the only person to have done extensive historical research into his family who died out, so no descendants are going to recognise their ancestor in my writing. If only there were some to help me with my research. It isn't difficult to identify this area where I live from details in my writing.

    As for personal details about myself, there are many trivial ones but after I finished the draft of my first and only novel I tried to find any deeper information about myself that it might reveal, but I couldn't find any. In fact I couldn't work out where most of my story had come from at all. Now, eight years later, I can identify the inspiration for it in all the experiences that I had after I wrote it, but it is a hard job to convince other people that I wrote a novel based on events that happened afterwards. That's the irony of my story, that anyone reading it today would assume that it was based on my own life until they found out exactly when I wrote it. They would then assume that they were mistaken, solely because the idea that absolutely nothing can oppose the progress of time is so ingrained in human thinking.

    So, if readers can deny that my novel is based on my personal experiences then equally any author can deny that theirs is based on theirs either. It is nonsense for people to assume that our fiction must have been based on events in our lives before it was written but couldn't possibly have been based on those after if the evidence for each is equally strong. In the usual disclaimer a writer states that any similarity to past and present real events and people is coincidental, but equally readers maintain that any similarity to future events and people must be coincidences.

    I have encountered the bizarre situation of having written about real people in my life before I first met them, but when I have told them this they have just been intrigued by the idea. Perhaps the one person who rejected the idea was a psychologist who specialises in research into people who believe that they have premonitions about the future. When she told me that such thoughts are normally misconceptions I pointed out that two characters in my novel bore similarities to herself and her close colleague. We still correspond on the subject.

    I am also in the odd situation of having apparently based my story closely on TV series and films that weren't released or I hadn't watched until after I wrote it. Whether this can legally be defined as plagiarism I very much doubt, but it does prove just how much human society relies on the direction of time for its fundamental structure, which I suspect would crumble if strong evidence proved otherwise.

    I have read that it is not unusual for writers to see similarities between their stories and their own later lives. This is assumed to be simply the creative mind working hard to make sense of coincidences, but my ludicrous experiences lead me to suspect that our creativity arises from deep unconscious knowledge, some of which may indeed originate in our futures. While we can vet our writings for revelations about our past and edit them out or obfuscate them we can do nothing to eliminate those about our futures as we simply cannot recognise them until they happen to us. In my case there was so much of my future in my story that I couldn't understand where I had got it from at all.

    Don't worry about what you think you may be revealing about your personal life. Everything, even the truth, is evidently deniable and people will believe what they choose to anyway. Fiction is universal but fact is local. Put enough distance between the observer and the truth and it will seem much like fiction to them. Speaking of that, is Nevada a real place? In fact is it true that there's a new world, an entire continent, on the far side of the Atlantic? From what we hear and see of it over here in the UK it's often hard to believe that it is real. In fact it's just typical of those big multinational companies to claim to be based in a fictional country, such as the USA may be, to avoid paying taxes anywhere. It may be an extreme example, but I think it illustrates my point. Fiction is simply things far from our personal experiences. Hearsay, and presumably now also seeshow, is not acceptable as evidence, so I understand. Now I must get back to working on building my computer in the 1960s. There's a lot to do and I'm way behind schedule already.
    Last edited by JustRob; October 9th, 2019 at 09:23 AM.
    'Sharing an experience creates a reality.' Create a new reality today.
    'There has to be some give and take.' If I can take my time I'm willing to give it.
    'The most difficult criticism that a writer has to comprehend is silence.' So speak up.

  2. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Sir-KP View Post
    Many times whenever I'm dealing with my antagonistic fictional religion.
    I would wonder how easy it is to write freely or 'open up' being an author in a country like Indonesia - do you find you have to be somewhat careful?

    Actually, that applies to probably anybody. I find it very difficult to address certain things in my work even in the U.S because of how fecking polarized some issues are. Bringing in certain political beliefs, for instance, can be very difficult in this 'climate'.
    "If you don't like my peaches, don't shake my tree."

  3. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by luckyscars View Post
    I would wonder how easy it is to write freely or 'open up' being an author in a country like Indonesia - do you find you have to be somewhat careful?

    Actually, that applies to probably anybody. I find it very difficult to address certain things in my work even in the U.S because of how fecking polarized some issues are. Bringing in certain political beliefs, for instance, can be very difficult in this 'climate'.
    My publisher commissioned cover art for one of my novels from a Russian artist. She had to do it very... under wraps with it being an LGBT novel. Politics... don't eve get me started....
    "You don't wanna ride the bus like this,"

    Mike Posner.

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  4. #14
    I don't think you have to worry about old high school friends reading your book and saying "Gee, that's me!"
    Really, few of your friends or family will actually read your book.
    I have written characters that were flat-out based on real people, then sent them a copy of the book, and maybe 1 in 10 actually reads the thing.

    It's a statistical thing.

  5. #15
    Music Guru Trollheart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aquilo View Post
    I think readers are always going to tie what's fictional into the author's life no matter what you do: they're taught to do it at school when they look to critique beyond the novel and look at what personal or social context played around the author at the time of writing. So, yeah, even though it may only be a little sliver of ourselves that go into some characters, it can leave you feeling like you're walking outside with your skirt caught in your knickers, leaving your underwear visible to those who look your way.

    But, the way I see it: you're in character/narrator more, so you're mostly opening up about someone else, and it shouldn't ever hold you back. If you're finding it hard, don't see it as yourself, but your character. It's usually one of the ways to overcome author thoughts and feelings.
    And it's even worse for the women!
    Come away, human child to the waters and the wild
    With a faery hand in hand.
    For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand. - WB Yeats "The Stolen Child"

    I drink to forget, but I never forget to drink.

    "If the real Jesus Christ were to stand up today
    He'd be gunned down cold by the CIA" - The The, "Armageddon Days Are Here (Again)" - Mind Bomb, 1989


    The most destructive force on the planet is not nukes or global warming...it is the human ego. - Ralph Rotten

  6. #16
    Music Guru Trollheart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by luckyscars View Post
    I'm not a big fan of this kind of thinking. I recognize it exists and recognize that stories are personal, but I don't think of stories so much as exercises of a writer 'opening up' as they are of projection.

    The difference comes down to how you think about your work. If somebody wants to address their past experience of something traumatic through their work, that's fine. But I would argue that making the character a direct representation of you/your experiences is often a road to becoming too close to the work, to the point that seeing it objectively and therefore critically becomes difficult. There has to be a certain distancing. Otherwise you might as well just skip over the fiction completely and write an autobiography.
    This. It's just fiction. If someone recognises themselves in one of your characters, you can either say I don't see it, or admit that maybe you based that character on them. Most times, unless the character is really awful, people will tend to look on such an occurrence favourably, as we're all at heart narcissists anyway. Except for that guy.
    Quote Originally Posted by seigfried007 View Post
    I'm less worried about readers jumping to the right conclusions about me personally and far more about them jumping to the wrong ones.

    I don't write characters based on people I know, so there's not much worry there. I do, however, see traits of myself and other people I know crop up in characters. I don't put said traits in on purpose; they're just part of how the character shows up and are more like a family resemblance than a ripoff.

    I second everything Aquilo said.

    Whether we want it to or not--whether we're even aware of it or not--I think a certain amount of us and our life experiences will show up in the work. I never intentionally stick bits of myself or my life experience in, but because I'm writing the story, remarkably similar stuff to my own life experience just slips in anyway, and I roll with it.

    My current WIP is chock full of such things. For me, it's harder to keep distance once I realize similarities between myself/experience and the story. So long as I don't see what's right in front of me, I'll churn those words out a-okay because (as luckyscars said) it's projection and not an autobiography. I'm not actually writing my life down--I'm writing characters and events which have some marked similarities. Huge difference.
    Agree with this too.
    Quote Originally Posted by JustRob View Post

    As for personal details about myself, there are many trivial ones but after I finished the draft of my first and only novel I tried to find any deeper information about myself that it might reveal, but I couldn't find any. In fact I couldn't work out where most of my story had come from at all. Now, eight years later, I can identify the inspiration for it in all the experiences that I had after I wrote it, but it is a hard job to convince other people that I wrote a novel based on events that happened afterwards.
    Have you read The Wreck of the Titan, or Futility by Morgan Robertson? Written fourteen years prior to the sinking of the Titanic, it's eerily accurate. So these things can happen.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ralph Rotten View Post
    I don't think you have to worry about old high school friends reading your book and saying "Gee, that's me!"
    Really, few of your friends or family will actually read your book.
    I have written characters that were flat-out based on real people, then sent them a copy of the book, and maybe 1 in 10 actually reads the thing.

    It's a statistical thing.
    You could always ask them who they want to play themselves in the movie adaptation!
    Come away, human child to the waters and the wild
    With a faery hand in hand.
    For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand. - WB Yeats "The Stolen Child"

    I drink to forget, but I never forget to drink.

    "If the real Jesus Christ were to stand up today
    He'd be gunned down cold by the CIA" - The The, "Armageddon Days Are Here (Again)" - Mind Bomb, 1989


    The most destructive force on the planet is not nukes or global warming...it is the human ego. - Ralph Rotten

  7. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Trollheart View Post
    Have you read The Wreck of the Titan, or Futility by Morgan Robertson? Written fourteen years prior to the sinking of the Titanic, it's eerily accurate. So these things can happen.
    I haven't read it but do know about it. It is mentioned in an article in the thirteen volume partwork The Unexplained in my library and just a couple of days ago my angel and I watched an episode of the old TV series One Step Beyond that was about several strange predictions made by people before the sinking, including the novel Futility. As you say it is eerily accurate about the details. My own novel wasn't just apparently based on events across the six years after I wrote it but also itself intimated that those events would fall within that six year period. In fact events at the end of that period were actually the inspiration for the climax of the novel, so I can accept that an interval of fourteen years is equally possible. People assume that premonitions are always about imminent events, but actually it's just that longer term premonitions aren't so easily identified except in outstanding examples like the novel Futility.

    I joined the Society for Psychical Research as a casual member to find out more about this kind of phenomenon, but what surprised me was that their focus isn't so much on discovering whether it is real or just an illusion but on using formal scientific methods to measure and understand it. In fact although I have reported my experiences to the society for inclusion in their archive of spontaneous incidents,which they have maintained since their formation in 1882, they see such events as so commonplace that mine aren't seen as that significant. What may be more interesting is that I also provided an amateur scientific document describing how I think my experiences came about.

    The extent to which eerie coincidences genuinely occur without any cause is the subject of perpetual debate as it is impossible to trace events and measure their frequency outside of controlled laboratory conditions. Hence statisticians can argue that they can happen as often as they do without actually crunching the numbers while believers in psychic forces can claim that they happen more often than pure chance predicts. The significance to writers is that no matter how convincing the coincidences between their fiction and fact are, they can never be proved to be any more than chance coincidences, so a disclaimer to that effect is almost always adequate.

    During the analysis of my novel and comparison of it against my later real life experiences I noticed that events and characters were chopped up into their more basic elements and then reassembled differently, so even though my characters may have been based on people I eventually knew, each character was an amalgamation of facets of several people. Hence it wasn't possible to say that any character was entirely based on one real person. I suspect that this is how many writers consciously work, assembling characters from portions of many people that they have known. As an example I conceived an autistic young man named George who spent much of his time playing old-fashioned platform games such as Mario Brothers on a computer. Years later in reality I met this young man, who has a large collection of vintage games consoles and has even dressed up as Mario to make videos to post on his Youtube pages. The one deviation of my character from him is that his real name isn't George, but his younger sister was named Georgia after her grandfather George. Furthermore Georgia was born just weeks after I started writing my novel, so when I started it quite possibly nobody knew that the baby would be a girl and not a boy to be named George. Hence my character is eerily a composite of two children in the same family that I didn't even know existed when I created it. Most of my other characters can also be traced to several people whom I have known, so it is apparently always possible to point to differences between your characters and the people who think they were the inspiration for them if you have worked this way.

    P.S.
    At the time of writing my novel I assumed that the character Raymond in the film Rain Man was my inspiration for my character George, but the details make Georgia's real brother a much better match. My character George actually was a savant like Raymond in my original novel, but strangely in a partly written subsequent novel set in a parallel reality more closely similar to our own reality I depicted George as just an ordinary autistic person just as the real person is. Yes, my trilogy was planned to include two novels that covered the lives of the same people but in parallel realities, one much closer to our reality than the other until the two realities start to interact.
    Last edited by JustRob; October 10th, 2019 at 09:12 AM.
    'Sharing an experience creates a reality.' Create a new reality today.
    'There has to be some give and take.' If I can take my time I'm willing to give it.
    'The most difficult criticism that a writer has to comprehend is silence.' So speak up.

  8. #18
    Here's a more specific example. I know someone in real life that has a very rare form of a condition of the eyes.
    If I were to say create a character with that same condition, you don't find that creepy? Weird? Upsetting?
    The generalization I'm getting is to go with it I guess haha.

    Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk

  9. #19
    Music Guru Trollheart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JasoninNV View Post
    Here's a more specific example. I know someone in real life that has a very rare form of a condition of the eyes.
    If I were to say create a character with that same condition, you don't find that creepy? Weird? Upsetting?
    The generalization I'm getting is to go with it I guess haha.

    Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk
    It would only possibly be creepy, imo, if you made that character like a rapist or a child molester or something, then the person might say "you made me an evil person!" But even then, the condition may be rare, but I'm sure it isn't unique. My mother died of a rare form of cancer; should I then, if I were to write a character with that same strain, assume I'm taking my late mother's name in vain? I don't think you have anything to worry about. At worst, you could tell this friend that you used their condition as a way to bring the thing to the public notice, or that you used him or her in your research, or any number of reasons. Like I say, most people in my experience are delighted to know that they're "in your book", even if it's not immediately apparent. I haven't yet come across anyone who was annoyed, unless the intention was to slander or out them in some way.
    Come away, human child to the waters and the wild
    With a faery hand in hand.
    For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand. - WB Yeats "The Stolen Child"

    I drink to forget, but I never forget to drink.

    "If the real Jesus Christ were to stand up today
    He'd be gunned down cold by the CIA" - The The, "Armageddon Days Are Here (Again)" - Mind Bomb, 1989


    The most destructive force on the planet is not nukes or global warming...it is the human ego. - Ralph Rotten

  10. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Trollheart View Post
    It would only possibly be creepy, imo, if you made that character like a rapist or a child molester or something, then the person might say "you made me an evil person!" But even then, the condition may be rare, but I'm sure it isn't unique. My mother died of a rare form of cancer; should I then, if I were to write a character with that same strain, assume I'm taking my late mother's name in vain? I don't think you have anything to worry about. At worst, you could tell this friend that you used their condition as a way to bring the thing to the public notice, or that you used him or her in your research, or any number of reasons. Like I say, most people in my experience are delighted to know that they're "in your book", even if it's not immediately apparent. I haven't yet come across anyone who was annoyed, unless the intention was to slander or out them in some way.
    The person isn't being portrayed in a negative or evil way at all. If anything, quite the opposite. Every character has certain flaws, but not evil. Actually, this character will be the wife of the main character. And a happy, loving relationship.
    The condition isn't bad or a disease, so I wouldn't say it needs to be brought to light or a heightened awareness.
    But it's like 15K in the world, so extremely rare.

    Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk

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