What are some of your true life stories that would make great novel plots?

Q&A With Shay Each Sunday

I apologize for missing last week’s Q&A! I was traveling and did not plan well before I left, but hopefully this week makes up for it!

Q: What are some of your true life stories that would make great novel plots?

A: This is a question with so many possibilities, and honestly I have had some really bizarre and painful things happen to me that a lot of people have said I should write books or stories about. This is just like anyone else though, we all have weird and disappointing things happen—and even small events or thoughts can maybe land a line or paragraph in a book, without having to be the whole focus. You can write about your life in every book even if the overall plot hasn’t specifically happened to you.

However, there is one life event in particular that happened to me that is so insane, I am planning on actually writing two books about it. I keep putting it off, not just because I’ve been working on other projects but because I don’t feel prepared to take on such a huge story at the moment. I feel like even if we live something it might not come as naturally to write because maybe we’re too close to the topic or feel like we can’t do it justice, but I WILL write these two books because I know I need to create them for myself. One of the books is going to be a memoir with a full account of what happened, and one is going to be a young adult novel, which will be mainly fiction with some of the details worked in—the narrator loosely based on the teen that was a big part of the story. Most people who know me well know that I had a best friend for my entire life, since we were born, and we were basically part of each other’s family, including her much older sister who babysat me when I was a newborn and worked for my father for sixteen years. So for now, I’ll leave it at that, something happened that no one could fathom. I think the books will be therapeutic and make great and interesting stories. The truth can be stranger than fiction, and it can also be the perfect inspiration for fiction.

Another event I’ve been told I should write about is my college tennis coach and those many painful experiences. I don’t blame her for “ruining” my love of tennis or anything like that, even though I have barely played at all since graduating. I only wished I could have realized sooner that I didn’t need to stick with it and devote so much of my college experience to something that became inconsequential, especially while being emotionally abused. If I can think of a way to make a real-fictional (oxymoron? Nope, it’s all real!) story out of this then I may because it was an experience that informed my life a lot for those few years.

I could write about how being so shy has impacted most areas of my life, and the various comments and experiences that came about due to the shyness. I don’t have any plans for a story like this, other than the very short personal essay I wrote, “Don’t Quiet Down Please” (available here). But it would certainly be another interesting topic to explore. I try to work in a little bit of myself in any project, it’s kind of impossible for authors not to, even if the plot is so far from reality, there are realities in everything. My upcoming poetry collection Bleeding Flowers consists of some personal experiences/feelings, though most are metaphorical, so that was a different approach for me that has definitely been satisfying to write—stay tuned for the publication by subscribing below!