Friday, February 16, 2007


What do you do when you have an idea for a short story, but it's going to affect your relationship with someone? I mean, it's fiction, no question, but the germ of the thing undeniably comes from something recognisable in reality.

Quite a lot of my fiction - and probably quite a lot of fiction everywhere - comes from the idea of taking reality and stretching it out of shape, twisting it, kneading it into something different. In real life things go the way they do, but for the sake of telling a story you say, "Yeah, but what if it didn't happen like that? What if it happened like this? Or what if they had said this instead of that?"

I used to believe that real life and real people are there for the taking; that a good story is a good story and if I need to use a real moment, to hell with the consequences, I will use it.

Maybe I'm just going soft because now I'm not so sure. Do you write that story and risk affecting the relationship, or do you leave it in your head, knowing that once they read it no amount of explaining that it's just a story is going to prevent the dynamics of the relationship changing?

Just wondering.


Viki said...

I say write it anyway, now, while you're feeling the pull of it. It doesn't mean you have to try to publish it right now.

Then when that person turns on you, you can publish it as revenge!

No, seriously, to me when a story idea comes and feels right, I write. After it's done, I decide what to do with it.

You could always send it to some obscure-ish publication in the States, and that person might never see it or know of its existence!

Just my possibly unethical 2 cents.

Quick said...

No, your two cents makes sense. Hmm.

Anonymous said...

I do the same thing but usually the idea I start out with and the germ of inspiration from reality, gets completely transformed during the process of fiction. But that's also because I don't want anyone else placing a claim on my work and I don't want hassles. So I reckon write, but let it develop into what it wants to be and put some effort into changing it so that there's no problems down the track. You want to enjoy any success you have with this story and not worry about it. Plus some people (happened to me) who claim they read your work, don't and therefore don't recognise themselves. So you're fine.

Ariel said...

All material is research material... You can always tweak a few things to make it anonymous. get yourself a 'nom de plume' for starters... good luck!

Boy Wonder said...

What a doozey of a pickle.

We write about what we know. Even when the subject matter is so far removed from reality that it seems impossible to connect it with what we know of our world, we're still just writing about what we know. Example, Stephen King stories come from the same place - his fucked up up-bring in Maine. And look at how successful that fucker is (regardless of what you think of his work). Sure, he's probably alienated a lot of people along the way, people who've probably picked up a book and thought "Hang on. That sounds like me..." but he is money in the bank.

On a personal note, I wrote a story a while ago, 1,000 words or so, about a guy sitting in a cafe with his girlfriend. He sat there the whole time thinking about how much he couldn't tell her that he loved her. He then got up and threw himself in front of a car. My girlfriend at the time was very disturbed by it.

Quick said...

Problem is, Amra, that the premise this story is built on will be impossible not to recognise. It's still fiction in that it's a what-if story, but it will be recognisable to those involved no matter how much I disguise the main characters.

A nom de plume could be the way to go Ariel. Then again, maybe I'm just worrying too much. I've skated close to reality with stuff in the past and people have accepted that it's just for fun. I think everyone plays with lives in their heads, writers just indulge themselves by bothering to write it down.

Good afternoon Mr Wonder. Again, yes, you are right. And Stephen King... I read Misery years ago and couldn't put the damn thing down. And was there one called The Dark Half? That was a page turner too. I guess in the end if there's a good story to be written you just have to go for it and fuck the consequences. It's just stories, innit.

That ex-girlfriend probably still talks about you, you loopy fucker. Actually, I used to love writing twisted stories like that. They still pop out from time to time... in fact I was going to post one here a while ago but it felt too twisted for the generally light-hearted fluff I generally go for, but I might take another look and post it today. It's a bit demented.