For Instance

In my last post, I had mentioned the topic of “instances,” those occurrences that happen in our lives that may be funny, strange, unusual, sad, or just something that had an impact on your life. I wanted to do a post talking about them today.

Do you add personal instances into your stories?

I thought long and hard about this question. I’ve come very close in doing so, bordering on the ebb and flow of memories that wash against me as it mists my face with enticement to slip something in here or there within the paragraphs.

No one will ever know . . .

They won’t think it really happened . . .

Readers will just assume it’s fiction . . .

Perhaps they will. Perhaps it would make good fiction, those intense feelings and emotions I express through my typing fingers to bring the story new life as I push against the borders of what makes a mediocre writer into a great one.

Yet, I’ve never added any type of event from my personal life into my fiction writing. I’m not sure why.

Is it because I never really thought of doing it before? Do I thrill on creating something new, something unheard of, something outside of what I deem as the humdrum life that I endure?

Or perhaps although the reader won’t know it is a real event, I will know in my own mind that it occurred? Does it make me uncomfortable to share personal instances in such a flippant way with fictional characters, teasing and prodding and perhaps tainting them to suit the needs of the story, changing in ways that forever stay within my mind as sadness fills me at the irrevocable loss of those true memories?

Also, what of those people who know my life as they will read the story and see those instances lurking? I suppose that it might feel good for them at times, like a hidden joke a person understands the meaning of two hours later as they let out a guffaw. But what of those instances that might be more of the uncomfortable nature? Will those people shed a tear at the grief unexpectedly visited on them, or will it feel like a slap in the surprised face if the instance might speak of them in a not-so-nice light?

What of them? Should they matter? Will it matter? Are the feelings of others something to be considered?

Then again, perhaps adding a personal instance will make a writer understand their life a little better. Writing it out, placing the character in this situation to make those forthcoming mistakes and choices, might perhaps clarify and uncover exciting new possibilities never considered because the writer can now take a step back to view things at an objective standpoint.

Who knows?

Do you? Have you ever added a personal instance into your fiction writing? How did it turn out? Did it complicate matters? Did it clarify them? Did it just add a bit of spiciness to the story?

Or do you prefer to keep fiction as fiction and reality as reality?

For some strange reason, it felt appropriate to post a photo of myself not wearing a drop of makeup. Perhaps I simply needed to place a bit of the real me into a post talking about fiction writing...


  1. I think that it a cute picture of you! I have never added any of my real life experiences into my fiction, and I'm not sure why, either. It's something to think about for sure. Thanks.

  2. I suppose people might be more inclined to add real life experiences to their stories based on genre. I can imagine myself, if writing romance, of adding a disastrous first date and molding it to fit the scene.

    And I suppose I could do other tidbits of occurrences into my suspense. But I don't know why I'm not inclined to do so. It could only help to add to the authenticity of the story, right?

  3. The stories I have written have always had autobiographical elements. Nonfiction, however, is my desired genre.

  4. True. Nonfiction is based on actual instances, or at least it should be :)

  5. I probably do put a bit of myself, my personal instances in my fiction. I'm sure my mom could spot it in a heartbeat. I don't consciously do it though. I would have to say that if we're writing authentically, we put ourselves (and our instances) in the stories whether we mean to or not (unless you are an extreme plotter/planner). Good post.

  6. Hmm? I'm not sure, Eric. I'm a major pantser, and I can honestly go through my stories and say that I've never added any involved scenes, detail-by-detail, from my life. And I really should. I've got some great material to use!

  7. I was reading about F. Scott Fitzgerald today because evidently they've got a new musical about him and his wife on Off-Broadway. He used events from his life a lot. It seemed to work out all right for him writing-wise, but not personally.

    As for me, I've only added something personal to my writing a couple of times. Recently I wrote in a short story about a situation where all those involved had passed on. And very early on I quoted a friend in a story practically word for word. She did not like it! Since then I've mostly stuck to total fiction.

  8. Thanks, Mary! I was wondering about that part, about how other people would handle what might be written about them. I suppose a person must tread with caution and be prepared for the consequences if they add their real selves into the story.


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