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Real Life in Fiction Works?

Not only do the situations that we, as authors, grew up with influence the mood and feel of our stories, but oftentimes once we've been through something it can become a part of a story. We've lived it, experienced it, can write about it.
I've written about a car accident my mother and I were in, a boating accident also when I was a child, swimming with sharks and manta rays, exploring a jungle-like swamp in Florida as a teen, rappeling down a mountainside, firing weapons, and hand-to-hand combat.

Then too, I often include real life drama in my stories that I've read about. I research wolves for my werewolf series, and for all the stories I write about I include real places, even if I change the names or combine different places in an area to make it my own unique place. They're still based on real areas, like in To Tempt the Wolf, or Destiny of the Wolf. In Heart of the Wolf, the red alpha leader's ranch is a real place that I found advertised for sale in Oregon. Perfect for the story. :)

And real people too are great for fictionalizing into stories! Ever know someone who is so frugal they unscrew some of the lightbulbs in light fixtures that have multiple bulbs? Or so neat that everything in their closet is perfectly aligned by season, color, sporty, dressy wear? Or so talkative that you avoid seeing them if you're in a rush? Or so snoopy that if you tell them anything, you know it will get around the world in a millisecond? So real people, too, can be drawn into characterizations in fiction.

A tidbit I might read about in a news article can find its way into a story. An article on silver fit well into my upcoming Legend of the White Wolf. A hurricane-strength storm off the coast of Oregon worked well for To Tempt the Wolf. A story about a real wolf in peril will be included in one of the newest contracted works.
A thought about what if--will often result in research that will help me to add a new angle to a story. And truly when I get stuck, a little research can often help me get unstuck.

So can real life affect fiction? You bet! And be all the better for it!

When I read a story, I always love knowing that some aspect of the story is true. Even if it has vampires, or werewolves, or hunky Highlander's, oh my!

What about you?
Terry Spear
Destiny of the Wolf, Heart of the Wolf--Publishers Weekly "Best Books of the Year!" To Tempt the Wolf (Sept), Legend of the White Wolf (2010) "Giving new meaning to the term alpha male."


  1. Real life? Oh, yeah. Let's start with JAWS, the movie. Then write a story about it. LOL.

    The cover is gorgeous, Terry!

  2. I couldn't agree more about things in your life making their way into books. In The Lady Flees Her Lord the daisy crown scene is right out of my own experiences, and so much fun to write as I remembered. Thanks for the reminder.

  3. I've often incorporated real experiences into my writing, too, although I'm using fewer of them since I started writing about aliens!

  4. Oh yeah, I definitely use my life experiences or those of family and friends, in my books. That way when our dear editor, Deb asks me "Where do you come up with this stuff?" I tell her. Now she is beginning to believe me when say I have used a some of the characteristics of family members while constructing my characters, but I have to tone my characters way down. No one would believe the real characters in my family.

  5. Ladies,
    Someday I'll write that book about the Pizza Man that got away.
    In the mean time.
    I'll read about the Aliens that landed in Cheryl's Barn. And have taken up residence in Indiana.
    And all those beautiful Cats & Werewolves, that I'd like to meet and spend a Day or Nights with in Real life.

  6. Oh yeah, Judi! I saw JAWS when we lived in Florida. The beaches were closed to Patrick AFB personnel because they'd had so many shark attacks there. :)

    Michele Ann, that's what I love to do, add something that really happened...makes it lots more fun.

    But see, that's what makes it real,Cheryl,...real experiences even in an alien way of life. Instead of a car accident, it's a spaceship wreck. LOL :)

    Robin, I so agree...when I tell about my dad's stunts and how he had to have had a guardian angel watching over him, people don't believe all the times he had near-death experiences. :) Definitely real life people can seem so far out, it makes them appear unreal! :) Better stick to fictionalized versions. LOL

    Donna, the pizza man who got away? Sounds intriguing!

  7. I'm working on something now that was inspired by one of those larger-than-life characters ripped right from the pages of real life. When they say truth can be stranger than fiction, my new heroine is the poster child for that! I couldn't have made up something better!

    Love the new cover, Terry!

  8. I suppose all writers incorporate real life events, places, people to some degree. In my case, since I have never been to England or lived 200 years ago, it isn't so much the gritty specifics of place that I can write about from experience! But I do know what it is to be married, in love, a mother, etc. And I have met a TON of people in my lifetime and am pretty sure that within reason folks are the same now as they were a thousand years ago! LOL! They had sex back then, right? Just checking because some folks seem to think the old-time English procreated from cabbages. :)

    Can't wait for my wold tales, Terry!

  9. Oh Man! Check spelling, Sharon!!

    I meant to say: I can't wait for MORE WOLF TALES!!!!

  10. Oh yeah, that happens all the time. I've used a friend's husband's catastrophies, a friend's disasterous blind date and another's speeding ticket, just to name a few.


  11. I have used hurricanes which, having grown up on the NC coast I have experienc with and I love to include things I've seen kids do.

    For the WIP I'm including boat ride on the Intracoastal Waterway during which for over an hour the boat was surrounded by dolphins--forty or fifty of them!

  12. Yup, I used stuff from my real life too. That's why I like to write about places I've been, because having had the experience of being there helps me bring it more realistically to the page.

    For example, the sheep running all over the road in The Wild Sight really did happen (and almost ran us off the road a couple of times), and going to The Giant's Causeway was truly inspiring. In Treasures of Venice, the story takes place in Venice in Feb. right after Carnevale because that's when *I* was in Venice. And some of those descriptions of the canals (orange peels and cigarette butts) are directly from personal observations. :-)

    Love the cover, Terry!

  13. Marie, that is so neat, can't wait to read it! And thanks on the cover. I love the art dept! They do a wonderful job with covers!

    Sharon, lol on the cabbages. Isn't that how they came about??? :) I'm so glad you're looking for the new wolf tales. :) Any spelling is acceptable!!! :)

    Ah, Linda, your poor friends! :) But great fodder for your stories!!!

    Oh, MM, that sounds like fun! It made me think of when we sailed in the Banana River and the dolphins swam alongside us, nearly as big as the boat!

    Ah, Aunty Cindy, you reminded me of the time I came up over a rise in western Oklahoma and this guy flashed his lights. Methinks there's a cop lurking, although I was driving the speed limit. But even so, I slowed down. And voila! Cows all over the road. Big, unmoving cows. Would have wiped my little Pinto out if I'd hit them. :)...Sounds like a good story in the making! Thanks!

  14. Hi Terry,

    How interesting to find out that the places in your books are often based on real places :)

    I'll never forget in Little Women when the Professor tells Jo to write what she knows--I'm sure if I ever get off my butt and start writing again, there will be so many influences from my family and friends!



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