Need ideas for your short stories? Your life and experiences can be the answer to this dilemma. Even if you feel your life has not been particularly remarkable, it is still a source of endless writing material. Using real life incidents as inspiration for your fiction serves several worthwhile purposes. Not only does writing from real life give you material and story ideas, but it can also help you sort out issues or problems, give you insights you may have overlooked, or provide a harmless way to vent some angst.
Generally, we do not want our private business out there for the world to read. Many parts of our lives are much too personal or even painful to share. But, done as fiction, writing from real life doesn’t have to follow the actual events as they happened. A fiction writer is free to embellish, manipulate the facts, change the names, and alter the circumstances. In fact, it’s a good idea to change the names. If you open almost any fiction book, you will find the disclaimer in the front which states that the book is a work of fiction and that all characters and events are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. In our lawsuit-happy society, this type of stipulation can be important.
Writing from real life offers the writer a number of benefits. When trying to put an event on paper, the writer is offered opportunities for self-analysis, a chance to redress the past, a way to come to terms with old conflicts, finding solutions to problems, taking harmless revenge, and indulging in tender reminiscences.
If you have a problem you can’t figure out, write a story about it. Give your character the same problem and write a way for him or her to solve it. If you have regrets for things you have done in the past, write a story where your character does not make the same mistakes you did. Rewrite the past and, at least in your story, wipe out that bad memory. If someone has wronged you in a big way, write a story about it. Don’t like someone? Make that person a despicable character in your story and deal with him accordingly. It can be a great release. Your own life is a fertile source for creative story ideas.
People who know you well might recognize the situations you write about. They may point out that you did not write the events as they actually happened. However, as a fiction writer, you can take artistic license with the facts and use them as inspiration. If your work is fiction, you are not bound by the same rules as nonfiction writers.
Drawing on your own life experiences as material for your fiction will bring rewards other than producing a great story. Explore the benefits of writing from real life such as increased insight into your own situations, a chance to redo the past (at least on paper), and the fun of tackling unpleasant characters in an arena where you have all the control over what happens next. Happy writing!