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The Writing Class: Autobiographical Novels

This week’s writing class was all about autobiographical novels. These are novels which have been based on personal experiences, but fictionalised until the line between fact and fiction blurs beyond recognition.

For a writer one of the most important skills is to create deep and believable characters. Using our own experiences can help us do this. Fictionalising those experiences can (sometimes) make them more interesting and help protect us and others from being exposed in our work.

The strongest characters will have emotional credibility. Where better to look for the inspiration for their emotions than within ourselves? As my tutor pointed out, we need to be able to feel what our characters are going through. If we can’t, then how can we expect our readers to?

In many ways my characters are an extension of me. Not an exact replica (thank goodness), but an exaggeration of a tiny part of me. An emotion, a hope, a dream, or a real experience can be built upon, exaggerated, changed and placed into an entirely different setting. The end result is a character and situation that is completely different to me and my life. However, if you look deep enough, right to its core, you might still find a teeny tiny distorted reflection of me.