Stories uncovered! Secrets revealed! Sounds like an article straight out of the tabloids, right? This first-Friday A Drift of Quills are looking at the way people, news stories, or current events play a role in our works. Are we under the influence of current events? How do we use it?
Use people? And places? And stories?? I’m innocent!
Well… mostly innocent.
Maybe “unconscious” would be a better word, because while I don’t (usually) intend to put current happenings and humans in my stories, I’ve had people point out that this is like that, or this person is just like that person.
One of the most frequent questions I get as an author is, “Where do you get your ideas?”
The Quills addressed that questions a couple of years ago in “The Author’s Secret Sauce”—
Inspiration comes at me from every direction! Music, other books, news, dreams, conversation, pictures, quotes, you name it! Any of those things can easily set me to wondering how one of my characters might react or how the setting or culture or plot could be changed by employing the “what if” factor.
I confess, I am under the influence of things happening around me. On the one hand, I love taking “real life” and twisting it to fit into fantasy tales. It’s challenging. It’s fun. It lends reality to a make-believe world.
On the other hand, incorporating those realities into my stories helps me deal with them—and maybe it helps my readers, too…
Author of A Hero’s Curse (The Unseen Chronicles Book 1)
Stories inspired by a specific person, news story or current event can be fascinating. Of course there is the historical fiction category, but there’s also the plain good fun of fiction or fantasy that incorporates timely and relevant news. Godzilla, (2014), references and borrows from the Fukushima nuclear disaster of 2011.
I’m sure you have a favorite cultural or newsy reference in story. (Comment below, or share your favorite). Alas. I don’t usually write that way. A quick review of my short stories, screenplays, and novels reference nothing about today’s trending topics. But my stories may have something to say about today’s topics, without mentioning them directly.
Author of the Oathtaker Series
An author writes what she knows—whether she knows it or not. By that I mean that when she writes, her knowledge, awareness, and/or understanding of the things she writes about shows. So, if she tries to write on a topic of which she knows little, that lack of knowledge will shine through just as clearly as if she writes about a field in which she is an expert. But as to her use of specifics from the world around her … now that makes for an interesting topic.
Of course, I use information from the real world in my stories. I also—quite intentionally—create “faith” or “belief system” allegories between the fantasy world I’ve created in The Oathtaker Series and the real world. When I do so, I use real life issues not in the micro-sense so much as in the macro-sense …
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Have you read a fantasy story in which you could pin the plot or characters on real-life events? Tell us about it in the comments below!