Some writers invent entire new worlds full of characters birthed entirely from their brains. I am not those writers. Instead, I like to take something real, most often from my own experience, and disfigure it with my imagination into fiction. Perhaps it means I lack the depth of other worlds inside of me, but I do usually prefer to pervert experience (even hearsay) into story.

Generally, reality is the inspiration, the launching point. Then the story blossoms or festers from there into its own unique manifestation.

And then there’s my book The Rest Will Come.

Of all my fiction works, The Rest Will Come is the most “inspired by” true events, the most infused with real people, places, and events. The core characters and opening events were ripped from the life around me, my recounting of myself, people I know, and things that happened around me (less than to me). Then as the narrative unfolded, I twisted these things into how I thought they could play out in a more fictitious, horror-comedy world.

If you endured all these horrible online dating experiences, how did you not snap and kill them all?

The challenge to using real life basis for both characters and plot events is making sure the audience is in on the full story. If they were not there for the precipitating events, they may not know all the contributing factors or influences. If they do not know the character inspirations in real life, if they do not pick up on the inside references, the characters may fail to be entirely developed. Since they were full and real in my life and then my head, it would have been easy to overlook the fact that I did not make them so on the page.

However, once the characters and the story were fleshed out enough beyond what resided in the echoes in my own head, it was fun to play with hidden references, inside nods, and Easter eggs.

Initially, I documented the “based on real” bits exactly as I remember/perceived. Then during edits, the inspirations and I decided to not really change them. Truth is stranger than fiction most times, and I just could not conjure better circumstances.

Then when I crossed over into horror and the blood began to fly, I changed from fully documenting things to little winks. Every person who contributed a dating horror story to the narrative got a namesake and a retributive murder somewhere within the pages. Places or turns of phrase would be recognizable to the right reader.

Ultimately, my goal was for people who never met me or knew my real life inspirations to fully experience the story, characters, and world within the book. For those who did know me or us, I wanted them to enjoy collecting all the little Easter eggs and laughing along their fictional journey.

Was I successful? Did I manufacture the right balance between my reality and your fiction? You’ll have to read The Rest Will Come and judge my efforts for yourself.

Now, since diving so fully into the “inspired by true” premise for The Rest Will Come, I have swung the other direction for my current work in progress. True to my nature, I only operate in alternating extremes. So, I am trying my hand (literally) at imaging an entire world and creating characters with no external reference. The change contorts my brain but hopefully in a good way. The end result and its reception will tell.

Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling

Comments
  1. I think ultimately and perhaps ironically, you are the more Literary-minded writer than those who world build. There are those who escape Real Life in order to talk about Real Life, and those who write from the trenches. Even if you choose to play in pulp or frame in pulp, Real Life is the harder place from which to write — and the more honest…I love that you have such command of all the pieces needed to seat a story right here next to us (the most uncomfortable place to discover a monster). You, dear lady, are a real talent in the genre!

    Like

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