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Anyone journal or base part of their fictional stories on real life? (1 Viewer)

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Theglasshouse

WF Veterans
To create backstory Will Dunne suggests what I consider a form of journaling. This can done one day, then the next day, and comparing your answer after you compose it one month or a week later. I eavesdrop on people to answer these questions. I think I got an intriguing situation from answering these questions yesterday besides a recorded gesture of a character. This I frequently journal on my kindle though I may resort to journaling on paper.

What is your character doing now? Where is your character doing this? Who else if anyone is here and what are they doing? When is your character doing this? What is your character thinking about now? What is the next thing your character says?
 
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PiP

Staff member
Co-Owner
I people watch and take notes of their mannerisms and if possible I take a selfie with them in the background. Yesterday I built a story form a young bling couple who drove up to the restaurant in a new BMW mark 8, parked in the large disabled parking space and then walked to a table that had been reserved for them on the periphery. Waiters were like flies round a honey pot ... they were new money... fellow Brits may understand what I mean by this. I then proceeded to build a story which I relayed to husband while eating lunch. Is this another form of journaling? characters inspire their own story?
 

vranger

Staff member
Supervisor
To create backstory Will Dunne suggests what I consider a form of journaling. This can done one day, then the next day, and comparing your answer after you compose it one month or a week later. I eavesdrop on people to answer these questions. I think I got an intriguing situation from answering these questions yesterday besides a recorded gesture of a character. This I frequently journal on my kindle though I may resort to journaling on paper.

I don't keep notes in that detail about characters, nor do I formally go through that list of questions as I'm writing a scene. However, reading the questions, they're very natural for the types of information I include in scenes. I sometimes write backstory for major characters, and certainly for the MC. The I often have to take it back out, or at least trim it.

I've never heard of that style of journaling, but I kinda-sorta do that mentally. Characters come alive in my mind, and I get to know therm there.

Same here.

I people watch and take notes of their mannerisms and if possible I take a selfie with them in the background. Yesterday I built a story form a young bling couple who drove up to the restaurant in a new BMW mark 8, parked in the large disabled parking space and then walked to a table that had been reserved for them on the periphery. Waiters were like flies round a honey pot ... they were new money... fellow Brits may understand what I mean by this. I then proceeded to build a story which I relayed to husband while eating lunch. Is this another form of journaling? characters inspire their own story?

"New money" plays the same way just about everywhere. :) I think the answer to your question is "Yes".
 

indianroads

Staff member
Global Moderator
I people watch and take notes of their mannerisms and if possible I take a selfie with them in the background. Yesterday I built a story form a young bling couple who drove up to the restaurant in a new BMW mark 8, parked in the large disabled parking space and then walked to a table that had been reserved for them on the periphery. Waiters were like flies round a honey pot ... they were new money... fellow Brits may understand what I mean by this. I then proceeded to build a story which I relayed to husband while eating lunch. Is this another form of journaling? characters inspire their own story?

Beyond the structure of journaling described, I believe the essential element of this is to simply pay attention... not only to the people you meet and see around you, but the environment as well.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
I think one of the most daring aspects of writing is being honest. In fact, I think it's impossible to write well without that honesty. I'm constantly making mental notes of other people but don't write anything down. I build up a portfolio in my head of 'human behaviour' (as a whole) rather than in any individual sense. I'll then take what I've learned over the years and consider it philosophically. I walk an imaginary mile in someone else's shoes. As the old hackneyed saying goes: 'there but for the grace of God go I'.

That's where the honesty comes in. We're not saints and we're not devils, we are humans making 'better' or 'worse' choices in life. As I've pointed out before, we are all made up of the same ingredients. It's just the measure of those ingredients that make us who we are. At the heart of what I write, there's always a huge chunk of me. The rest is made up of that walk in someone else's shoes and acknowledgement of an ingredient others may want to pretend they do not possess. We all possess hatred, greed, depravity, anger, love, etc. By imagining we had more of any given ingredient, we can extrapolate on what character we would become. You can only do that if you're honest.

https://www.writingforums.com/threads/191553-Words-(flash-Fiction)
 

indianroads

Staff member
Global Moderator
I think one of the most daring aspects of writing is being honest. In fact, I think it's impossible to write well without that honesty. I'm constantly making mental notes of other people but don't write anything down. I build up a portfolio in my head of 'human behaviour' (as a whole) rather than in any individual sense. I'll then take what I've learned over the years and consider it philosophically. I walk an imaginary mile in someone else's shoes. As the old hackneyed saying goes: 'there but for the grace of God go I'.

That's where the honesty comes in. We're not saints and we're not devils, we are humans making 'better' or 'worse' choices in life. As I've pointed out before, we are all made up of the same ingredients. It's just the measure of those ingredients that make us who we are. At the heart of what I write, there's always a huge chunk of me. The rest is made up of that walk in someone else's shoes and acknowledgement of an ingredient others may want to pretend they do not possess. We all possess hatred, greed, depravity, anger, love, etc. By imagining we had more of any given ingredient, we can extrapolate on what character we would become. You can only do that if you're honest.

When I ride cross country on my motorcycle I occupy myself by describing the scenery around me. Describe visual, smell, temperature, and internally how do I feel about what I'm experiencing.

Further, honesty is key in creating real and relatable characters. No one is perfect, everyone has faults. Protagonists have faults, and antagonists have virtues.
 
Marcel Proust wrote all his novels that way. He was literally writing about people he knew, disguised through the magic of fiction of course, and many/most of their distinguishing characteristics changed. Real people, places, conversations, ideas, culture, etc. It's uncommon these days, but not unheard of.

Personally, I like putting little bits and pieces from real life throughout my creative writing. Sometimes, but not always. I've always been better at writing nonfiction than fiction, but I aspire to write novels so am training myself to flex my imaginative capacities. No reason why real life can't be a source of inspiration though.
 
Marcel Proust wrote all his novels that way. He was literally writing about people he knew, disguised through the magic of fiction of course, and many/most of their distinguishing characteristics changed. Real people, places, conversations, ideas, culture, etc. It's uncommon these days, but not unheard of.

Personally, I like putting little bits and pieces from real life throughout my creative writing. Sometimes, but not always. I've always been better at writing nonfiction than fiction, but I aspire to write novels so am training myself to flex my imaginative capacities. No reason why real life can't be a source of inspiration though.

Couldn't agree more.

It's really strange. Back in school I was one of those quiet kids, who sat at the back of the class watching everyone chat and work together. It wasn't because I was a weird or a freak, I had really low self esteem so I 'watched' how the class communicated with each other, wanting to join in, knowing I'd never have the strength to. Over time, you being to 'see' characteristics common in 'types' of people and like AZ stated, 'honesty' or 'real' people have faults whether I liked them or not. Through reading, research (lots of it) the 'perfect' character should not exist, because it is too fake. Watching real people, their thought processes whether it is in a restaurant drinking coffee bad mouthing some mutual friend, to classmate's posture, leaning, interest in their buddy 'gave' a character characteristics. Having a base to start then the mind can go wild, what would he do, in this situation.

The more I have researched, the advice is more extreme ... Go out to see the world ... point being this will give you more rounded, realistic characters. Technically all characters created are loosely based or have heavily influenced by a person or at most two.
 

Theglasshouse

WF Veterans
I am thinking the history of the character ( real person) is another take away example of how researching people uncovers a motivation of a character. Based on the history of a character's problems and what they do about it or express we could come up with the desire of a character. By researching people we come to understand how they would handle the problem and what they want. Every history of someone you don't know well enough is unique. This is their imaginary reaction to the problem that could with imagination help create a story.

You cannot know your characters without knowing some important points of their history. At the very least, you must know the background of the problem your main character will struggle with during the course of your story.

If you know someone's details of their life. You could guess possible motivations and desires for joining a gang. Maybe it's a teenage desire to protect someone who is in danger because someone is after their lives. I read this in a book or an example of a character joining a gang could for instance have the motivation is to prove how tough they are. These struggles or unresolved problems could complicate the story.

Thanks everyone for contributing to the disucussion. I am going to discuss more concerning this approach for anyone if interested of a writer I read recently.

I hope this example makes sense since when confronted with a problem a character wants something. The history of what happened to them provides the motivation. Maybe their family passed away and they were raised by grandparents so he joins a gang of crooks. This example of grandparents came from a good example that came from someone I know if my family whose father was a victim of a criminal act many years ago and passed away. In that case the mother planned for his murder or was considered a main suspect in a true story.

So we can then begin to try to imagine a story by knowing the past of people we have encountered in real life to write a story part based on fact and fiction.
 
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