Have you ever read a novel and wondered if the author was working out issues in her own life? Fiction can be therapeutic for both the author and the reader. However, the therapy portion can’t be too visible. At least, that rule applies 99.9% of the time.
For instance, let’s say your boss unjustly fired you from your day job. You’re feeling unvarnished emotion and rightly so. Now that you have extra time on your hands to write a book, you may be thinking this would be an excellent plot element for your romance novel. Maybe the hero can be newly fired. Wouldn’t that be interesting?
Maybe, but probably not. At least, not if you’re writing the book while you’re still angry about what happened to you. Better to choose another plot element for now. Then, after you’ve had time to process being fired and can write about it from both sides of the equation, maybe you can add it to a book. Or maybe you’ll realize how boring it is to read about. Please note: Writing about a newly-fired person making a new start as a result is not the same as taking a reader through the process of being fired, which can take months. And even the most ridiculous or mundane situation can become riveting reading in the hands of a small cadre of authors. But when you’re writing from deep negativity, not coming off as therapeutic is quite a feat.
Or maybe you’ve gone through adoption, fertility treatments, or another life process. These events are dramatic in your personal life. So you may have experienced both highs and lows and want to convey those in story form. And when something is new to you, it seems fascinating. It may well be. But will that journey be mesmerizing to a reader?
To express the idea in other terms, it’s widely reported that renowned singer Aretha Franklin passed away from pancreatic cancer.
Fans want to read books about her life as a whole, but do you know anyone other than perhaps a doctor or medical resident who’d want to read, “Aretha Franklin’s Pancreatic Cancer Journey” in long book form?
I’m not saying to avoid recording experiences and life journeys. By all means, if you enjoy journaling, write everything until you’ve spent all your emotions. If nothing else, writing can provide insight for those you love when you leave your journals behind. Or you might use your material later to add an intriguing plot element to your book. Just be sure you do so at the right time.
Have you written about an experience close to your heart?
Can you offer tips to keep experiences from becoming memoir?
What life experience, if any, would you like to read about in a novel?
What authors or books convey life experiences most successfully, in your view?