Writers are constantly looking for inspiration. You can find your next story in the news or a historical incident or even from something that happened in your life. Inspiration is all around you.
Writing a book based on true events seems relatively more straightforward and easier than writing something entirely from scratch. You have to be able to successfully fictionalize the real event and turn it into a compelling story.
It is by no means an easy task. However, if you follow the tips mentioned below, it can become a little bit simpler.
Research, Research, Research
When your work is on an actual event, you have a starting point. But that does not mean that you should skip the research. You can uncover quite a lot of information that can help shape your book and add substance to it if you do thorough research.
You don’t have to include every small piece of information that you find in your book. However, the information can help you in various ways while writing. It can even give you ideas for your next book. Never underestimate the power of research.
Research is not just reading about the incident. You need to talk to the people involved in it if it was a current incident. While writing about a historical event, you need to talk to experts to understand the period and its intricacies.
Research also plays a key role in answering the question – how to write a non-fiction book. Facts are everything in a non-fiction book as you cannot fictionalize the events.
Get Permissions and Change Names
Whenever you are writing a book based on real life, you are telling someone else’s story. Even when you are writing a book based on something that happened to you, there are still friends and family involved in the book.
Anyone who becomes a part of the book needs to know that you are writing a book based on their life. You need to talk to them to get their perspective on the incident and also get their permission.
Getting prior permission will help you avoid lawsuits once the book gets published. You must also get permission in writing to avoid any hassles in the future.
Change the names of the people involved in the real incident. You should do this for two reasons.
The first is to protect the privacy of the people involved. They may not want the whole world to know that the book is about them, especially if it contains embarrassing or traumatic incidents.
The second reason is that you may want to fictionalize the story a bit and make modifications. When you stray from the real events and add your twist to the story, the real people involved should not feel that you are making up stuff about them.
When it comes to changing names, you have to make significant changes. It is not enough to change James to John. Try changing it to Vincent instead. The idea is to make the character seem as different from the real person as you can without compromising the story’s integrity.
Expand the Scope
There is a downside to writing about true events. Writers often feel limited by the events, and often, the events lack enough material for a whole book.
Many real-life events that inspire you can be written as a short story. When you are writing a book, you need to start from the beginning and provide ample backstory for everyone. Subplots require just as much attention as the main story.
Create Relatable Characters
Just because the character was inspired by a real person does not mean that they are relatable. The real person may have certain traits that a majority of your readers will find intimidating or unrelatable.
You can change your character’s personality to make them more relatable. For example, the strict boss could have had a tough time proving themselves worthy of the job and, therefore, expects the same level of dedication from everyone else.
Blend Reality with Fiction
The talent of the writer lies in successfully blending truth with fiction so that the reader cannot tell them apart. The actual event that inspired you may not be enough to fill a book. You can add additional drama and obstacles in the path of the protagonists.
If the antagonist got away with the crime in real-life, then you can give them appropriate punishment in the book. You can even combine various true events into one book to make it more compelling.
Inform Before Publishing
Apart from getting permission from the people involved, you should also inform them once you have finished writing the book, and it is about to be published.
They deserve the warning to be ready to read about their life from a different perspective. Despite changing the names and adding fiction, those who are close with the real protagonists may be able to make out that the book is about them.
Giving them fair warning will help them be prepared rather than them getting caught off guard.
Rewrite and Refine
Your first draft can never be your last draft. You need to revisit the draft and make appropriate changes. When you are writing a book, you will be deeply involved with the characters and the events in the book.
Taking a break and revisiting the book will offer a fresh perspective. You may be able to spot loopholes in the story and rectify them before the book reaches the publisher. It will also give you a chance to remove unnecessary chapters and characters that contribute nothing to the plot.
You can refine the story and make it better by re-reading it and rewriting it. You can also ask trusted friends or agents to review the drafts and offer their opinion.
Use Appropriate Tools
The software you use for writing also makes an impact on your story. A book or screenplay software will help you write with ease, even if you do not know how to format a book. It will also help your creativity flow more smoothly since you do not have to deal with formatting.
When you find inspiration for your book in real-life events, keep the points mentioned above in mind, and you will be able to create a bestseller.