Girls Write Out
Tuesday, January 10, 2006

How much is truth and how much is fiction? As a writer, specks of my real world are often infused into my stories—most times without conscious thought.

We were at a friend’s house on Friday night discussing my latest book, Hot Flashes & Cold Cream. She brought up a scene and asked me if that happened in real life. I thought a moment and with surprise finally said, “Yes.” I hadn’t even thought about that when I wrote it.

Scary, huh?

As I write this, my Shih-Tzu, Nocchi (pronounced No-Key, short for Pinnochio), is curled up beside me on the sofa, staring at the keyboard, her head peeking from under my arm. She is thirteen years old and has, well, three teeth. She was my prototype for Crusher, Maggie Hayden’s Chihuahua, in Hot Flashes.

Snatches of my husband sometimes creep into my stories. A snippet of an event in my life here and there finds its way onto my pages. A frail, bent woman with a sweet smile that I happen to see waiting on a bus, a toddler’s pudgy hand--sticky with peanut butter and jelly-- reaching up to her mother, friends laughing around a table in a coffee shop, Amish children playing ball in their front yard while horses meander in a nearby field--all fodder for my crazy imagination.

My real life brings color and texture to my fictional world. How could I write about sights and smells if I had never experienced them? I know, there’s always Google, but you can’t exactly smell a mocha latte on Google, you know?

For me, that’s the thrill of this job. Writing wakes up my senses, makes me aware of everything around me--course, coffee helps too, but still.

So wake up and smell the coffee today! Notice the colors around you--how about that little old woman in the grocery store whose hair reminds you of pink cotton candy? The taste of that mocha frappe? What about the feel of paper beneath your fingers when you sign your name for the debit card receipt? Okay, I'm not crazy about that one, either. Let's see, how about the feel and smell of that leather jacket you've been wanting? Well, you get the idea.

How about you? Does your real world slip into your fiction? Are you aware while writing it or do you discover it later?

Diann Hunt  
posted at 7:29 AM  
  Comments (12)
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At 11:18 AM, Blogger Sabrina L. Fox said...

On my current WIP I totally knew. I even told my mother, "Now don't go thinking this is you." She read it and said, "that most certainly is me." LOL. It really isn't, I just took some things from our own relationship and exaggerated them. She's not buying it. =)

I worry about this actually. Even with a disclaimer, people will think they know who you're writing about.

I think it's inevitable that real life will sneak into our writing.

At 11:25 AM, Blogger Kristin Billerbeck said...

If my real life crept into my fiction does that mean I'm married to Hugh Jackman??? Oh man, bring it on!

Shoot. That was definitely not reality.

Okay, maybe I'm back in San Francisco living with a view of the San Francisco Bay. Nope, looking at a paltry lake right now.

Let's just say I WISH my fiction was my reality.

At 12:05 PM, Anonymous Bethanie said...

but surely lakes are more peaceful than bustling city life kristin?

At 12:41 PM, Anonymous julie said...

speaking of reality in any of you write about real places? I'm finishing up my novel that'll be out next year and it's set in a real city, in some real places, ie., parks, restaurants, etc. No real people, though (at least not by name, ha, ha) Anyway, just wondering if any of you do use some real fixtures, and if it's worked or become a problem later...

At 1:40 PM, Blogger Diann Hunt said...

Julie, I'm getting ready to do that very thing in my next book which is set in Siesta Key. I plan to put in some real places and some fictional elements. I think the real streets, shops, restaurants, etc. anchor the story setting, though I'm sure I'll have to be careful about specifics when I do the fictional side.

For instance, I'd better not give a street address for my coffee shop. I could find out there's an adult bookstore there! LOL Wouldn't want my readers to go looking for it and find that! EEK!

At 2:41 PM, Blogger Rachel Hauck said...

Hi Di, yes my real world slips into my fiction. Beware, never know you snippets of my friends and family will show up. :) All good stuff, though. All good.

When I wrote the second Lambert book, the hero Ethan was so much like Tony in voice I had to be careful to not make him exactly like Tony. :)

Be blessed today!

At 10:09 AM, Blogger Robin Caroll said...

I think ALL writers incorporate some of reality into their fiction. Hello? Aren't we sponges, recording our impressions, reflexions, and experiences???

At 10:47 PM, Blogger Camy Tang said...

I'm totally aware of the real life that's in my fiction, but I'm also a little paranoid about making sure no one will be upset by it.

Like the mother characters in my manuscripts--I'm always careful to make them NOTHING like my mom. She doesn't read my manuscripts, thankfully, but if I do get published, I'd be hearing it all the way from Hawaii about how heroine's mother is just like herself and how could I do such a thing, she's shamed forever with her friends, yada yada yada.


At 9:54 AM, Blogger Diann Hunt said...

LOL, Camy! I know what you mean. I never have a character who is exactly like someone I know. I can't even give the first name of someone I know to a main character because I can't get past the real person to write the character. Make sense?

Anyway, we do have to be careful that we don't write about "real" people--especially in a negative way, as in making them a murderer in your suspense. LOL

At 5:31 PM, Blogger Rebecca Barlow said...

Ok, I'm a little late on this one,
but being a newbie to fiction writing, my premise is
kind of up Kristin's alley.

I've got 5 kids, so I'm thinking "escape"!!!
Isn't that part of the "fun" in fiction writing--
a socially acceptable way to avoid reality, for those periods of time while we're at work on something??
Please break the news gently if this isn't the case for some of you more seasoned fiction writers--

OK, I understand how some of the elements of reality might creep in, but only the ones that help in the fun of creating something totally different than my everyday world!!

At 10:03 PM, Blogger Diann Hunt said...

You can relax, Rebecca. It's totally socially acceptable to escape reality through writing. LOL

Well, that's my story, and I'm sticking to it.


At 1:11 AM, Blogger Margo Carmichael said...

Real life in my writing? Ack! I'd have to give birth in a taxi--in Paris; fly a fighter jet in the Six-Day War in Israel; find my favorite cab driver strangled--I think I'll keep my dull life in front of the computer! LOL Please pass the Trader Joe's dark Belgian chocolate with almond bar, that's enough excitement for me. Not really. I also demi-duck walk.


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The Authors
Kristin Billerbeck
Kristin Billerbeck is a proud Californian, wife, mother of four, and connoisseur of the irrelevant. She writes Christian Chick Lit; where she finds need for most of the useless facts lulling about in her head.

Colleen Coble

Colleen Coble writes romantic suspense with a strong atmospheric element. A lovable animal of some kind--usually a dog--always populates her novels. She can be bribed with DeBrand mocha truffles.

Denise Hunter

Denise Hunter writes women's fiction and love stories with a strong emotional element. Her husband says he provides her with all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too.

Diann Hunt

Diann Hunt writes romantic comedy and humorous women's fiction. She has been happily married forever, loves her family, chocolate, her friends, chocolate, her dog, and well, chocolate.

Hannah Alexander

Cheryl Hodde writes romantic medical suspense under the pen name of Hannah Alexander, using all the input she can get from her husband, Mel, for the medical expertise. For fun she hikes and reads. Out of guilt, she rescues discarded cats. She and Mel are presently taking orders from four pampered strays.

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