By Shiela Stewart
How much reality is okay to put in novels? I’ve asked myself that a lot. I worry about copyright laws or even stepping on someone’s toes. Most authors tend to have some reality in their books, mostly taken from an experience in their life, a moment that just sticks out and begs to be written. But what about seeing something on TV and building on it? I hear it all the time. “I could write a better story than that piece of crap” Sometimes watching a movie, or a TV show can spur an idea. That’s fine, as long as you don’t copy it with only changing the names and places.
But what about real life issues? There have been stories made on fictional people who either died or survived 911. Or a traveler that is late for their flight, misses it, then hears on the news it crashed. Lately I’ve heard rumours that a “Based on Actual Events” movie is in the early stages of planning surrounding the events that unfolded during the Colorado Massacre at the Batman premier. It doesn’t surprise me. It is a heart-breaking story and very compelling.
Now is it okay—say for instance me, a romance author—to make up a character that was in the shooting, who falls in love with a cop who saves her? Or in less dramatic events, making up a character that is in the
Olympics and write a story around him/her. How much reality is okay to use in creating a story? Do readers gobble up those types of stories because they know the situation? Or are they turned off from it? It’s a fine line, I guess, to know what is and isn’t okay to write about.
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