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Writing From Life

About five or six times a year I get an email that goes *something* like this:
“I/my parents/my grandparents/my best friend/somebody I found in a book or newspaper had an amazing life! I really want to turn the story of my/their life into a screenplay. Can you help me?”

First off, well done for finding the story and being so inspired. Secondly, I absolutely CAN help – via my e-library, “The Required Reading List“, where I have collected articles on everything writing-related I can think of, by many different authors, so you can get multiple perspectives on things like character, dialogue, format, structure and more. Bookmark it here.
A lot of the Bang2writers writing to me about this express concern they may not “do justice” to the true story they want to tell. Do not worry about this. Sometimes we have to sacrifice facts for drama and in essence “tell lies to tell the truth”: this may mean fabricating certain events and omitting others in order to tell the most dramatic story possible. This is NOT disrespectful. If you really care about the people involved, this will shine through no matter what you end up doing in telling their story.
So, instead of worrying what you *might* do in telling this story, think on this instead:
Are my intentions good and honourable towards this story and its characters – and what it means for the audience (including those people who may have known those involved in the story)?
If they are, you’re home free – and your “true story” spec is just the same as a totally fictional one. Give yourself a break and just do your best. You can’t say fairer than that.


How “true” can a true story be?

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