How to Write a Book That’s Based on a True Story

Life is filled with stranger-than-fiction instants. But how do you write a book based on a genuine legend? How do you take those fantastical occasions and turn them into an even better narrative? In practice, it’s much harder than it reverberates!

As a writer, you certainly want to capture those instants in an irresistible fib that books can’t put down.

But if you’re anything like me, you’ve determined the process to be a lot harder than it is desirable to. After all, shouldn’t translating true events into a story find it easier? You have everything you need, it seems: courages, contests, and the part plot.

Yet converting true occurrences into the written word almost always proves to be a frustratingly hard chore. The process vexes writers for a number of reasons, and is perhaps coerced you to quit at least one project you’d have adoration to successfully finish and publish.

I know this because I, too, have disappointed at order what seemed to be the “perfect” true-blue story.

Want to learn how to write a book from start to finish? Check out How to Write a Book: The Complete Guide.

My Perfect “Based on a True Story” Story

When I was eighteen years old, person blew up a neighbourhood gas station.

I grew up in a tiny township, the kind of place where everyone’s business is somehow public knowledge. And one day in wintertime we all woke up and one of our three gas stations used to go from a affectionate fueling centre to a pitch-black crater on the lunar surface.

At first the town was in horrified offend. Yet within the day, I( along with nearly everyone else) had figured out who did it.

The gas station was physically connected to the neighbourhood grocery legend, owned by the same businessman. Sure enough, a disgruntled hire had rigged the station to blow. However, “its just” a diversion so he could haul an ATM–stolen from the grocery store–out to the lumbers where he’d have the time to break it open and steal the contents.

Doesn’t this sound like a great foundation for a “based-on-a-true-story” fib? It did to me. But in the sixteen years since, I’ve struggled to know what to do with all the craziness and absurdity of my little hometown incident.

4 Steps to Write a Book Based on a True Story

In all storeys based on true incidents, you’ll need to determine specific alternatives about the specific characteristics, their motivatings, and the events. And in legends that directly or tangentially involve you as a possible person, then an initial, difficult preference has to be made.

Here are four steps on how to write a book that’s based on a genuine story 😛 TAGEND 1. Remove Yourself From the Story

Nine times out of ten, you, “the authors “, are probably not the best person to include in the story.

Why? Because often when true things happen around us, they don’t happen to us or with us. And if they do, the part experience becomes filtered through a heavily biased point of view: our own.

The first trouble I had writing my gas station fib came from this idea. I ever filtered it through my own position, and I had nothing to do with the story’s primary events.

I experienced the explosion, and the follow-up, as a skimpy( but highly interested) see. All throughout high school I succeeded at the grocery fib and often passed cash or acknowledgments backward and forward from the adjacent gas station. It was mostly my second home.

Then, the night of the explosion, I had a shift at the storage and watched the CCTV footage that demonstrated the arsonist ambling through the building to steal the ATM. I immediately recognized him( despite wearing a baseball cap over his eyes ), as did everyone else.

Here’s the problem with all of this: In this edition of the narrative, I’m the hero.

Yet in reality, a knot of other people–the arsonist, his wife, the policeman who drove over the cable that tripped the explosion, the killers chipping meat on the other side of the concrete wall when hundreds of gallons of gasoline ignited–are the real attributes of the storey. I scarcely garner a cited in any fictionalization of the drama.

So I had to remove myself from the legend altogether. It wasn’t pit to tell.

This is the first, and often most unpleasant, step to make when proselytizing true happens into written information. And it’s often distressing because in many circumstances you are more directly impacted by the events than I was in the arson.

But in most circumstances, it is best to remove yourself from the narration. Not merely does this free you from your own bias, it begins a process of adaptation that will lead you to see every character for what they–a piece in a storytelling problem. You’re not recreating history.

You’re telling a story.

This is why I invite you to step back, make some time to process, and divest yourself emotionally from the presences. It’s the only way to move forward and write a book that’s based on a true story.

2. Cut Characters

Most real life episodes include numerous personas. Lineages are large. Companionship hire hundreds of parties. Villages and metropolis live thousands or millions.

But stories–good storeys, at least–usually contain time a small handful references. It’s difficult to do service to large numbers of people( unless you’re Stephen King or you’re writing something 100,000 names or longer ).

In our efforts to replicate “reality, ” we often feel like every personality that was actually there must be included. This rarely upshots in a good story.

A strong precedent of this is the 1987 Brian De Palma film The Untouchables. This crime thriller shows the task force that took down Al Capone, concentrates on a crew of four heroes, some of whom die in the line of duty.

In reality, there were at least nine “untouchables, ” not four. What about those other five chaps? To tell the story well, the screenwriter rolled all of them together to model four persona “types” that impelled for an humorou story.

Is the movie “true? ” Yes and no. But either way, it’s an entertaining cinema that captures the essence of who the Untouchables were without being a slave to the line and letter of historical fact.

Your adaptation must do the same. Figure out who is absolutely essential to the story you are telling, and make bold options. It’ll keep your writing focused and abated the burden of “getting it right” history-wise, when you should be focusing on getting it right story-wise.

To learn more about character development and the ones you are able to be maintained in a legend, check out this post.

“Figure out who is absolutely essential to the story you are telling and make bold preferences to cut everyone else.Tweet this 3. Exaggerate( or Invent) Incitements

Perhaps a main reason that we write bibles based on genuine narrations is to find out the “why.” Why would a serial murderer act a certain way? Why did a particular civil rights icon manufacture his or her daring choices? Why would a disgruntled work blow a fuse his place of work and not just rob it?

That was my mission when I sat down to finally write the story of the blown-up gas station. I wanted to know why.

Of course, the real motivation was simple: It was the arsonist’s middle-finger to his boss, all while get coin he was required for god-knows-what.

Is this motivation relatable? A little bit.

But is it forceful, gripping, and page-turning? Not really.

So I supplemented a second storyline: the arsonist’s wife is leaving him for the purposes of an old-time kindle, and he supposes it. So not only is he blowing up the gas station to pay their pays, he’s doing it to show her just how far he’ll go to win her scrutiny and respect.

While it’s apparently wrong and illegal, it’s bold and relateable. We’ve all been desperate and dreamed of doing crazy pent-up things. Writing floors is the healthful style of going those out!

There’s often no way to know the true reason behind every stranger-than-fiction fib you want to tell.

You can weary yourself searching and researching to find out the “truth.” Sometimes you just have to stir the truth up.

And based on the crazy things we learn and hear, our made-up truth is often surprisingly accurate.

Just make sure you change specifies, happenings, and anything else that could send a lawsuit flying your road!

4. Edit a True Story Into a Great Story

The final alteration you must be willing to see is structural. Less important than personal bias, people, and motives, this change is very specific to the way things went.

Sometimes you’ll get lucky, and the chain of events is ideal for a three- or five-act structure. This was the case for me with the service station. While I had to create the lead up to and fallout from the explosion/ robbery itself, the cycle needed few conversions. That’s because it all happened in the span of a day or two.

When happenings are condensed into shorter timeframes, you’ll find them easier to structure.

But when affairs are spread out over weeks, months, and times, the work of structuring your tale will be much more arduous. What is essential? What is likely to be cut? Can episodes be rearranged?

Unfortunately, this all depends on the specifics of the history you’re rewriting, and I can’t help you there. Nonetheless, here are a few specifications to help you.

Essentially, an happen or representation is likely to be trimmed( or severely varied) if 😛 TAGEND

No one makes a choice No one suffers for a select No one detects the same reasons for a alternative

If none of these three things happen, then the phenomenon is likely to be cut( this, by the way, is nice admonition for storytelling in general !).

You can also go the arrange, if it’s peculiarly good, and transplant it somewhere else. Put a seize communication in a clutch location. This is all a part of “artistic license, ” the kind of changes that good columnists are supposed to make.

True Stories Aren’t Always Good Stories

This may sound surprising, but readers don’t want actuality when they read something that’s “based on a genuine story.” They believed they do–but they don’t, because reality is slow, chaotic, and filled with mundane and meaningless moments.

Readers certainly crave a good story , not only a true-life story.

“Your job is to study the “true story” and remove the best conflict, the riskiest choices, and the most compelling aims/ motives to make it a good story.Tweet this

How about you? Have you ever knowledge something that would make a great story? Let me know in the comments below!


For fifteen minutes, summarize an happening that occurred in your life, or around their own lives, that is simply too crazy to be true and would make a great story.

Then brainstorm one major alteration you’d establish in order to adapt it into a great story expending the four gradations above. Share your writing, and your deepen, in the comments section!

The post How to Write a Book That’s Based on a True Story appeared first on The Write Practice.

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