Top 10 Tips for Writing a Novel Inspired by a True Story

by |December 18, 2018

samantha wheelerSamantha Wheeler is a Children’s book author. Her books include Smooch & Rose, Spud & Charli, Mister Cassowary, Wombat Warriors and Turtle Trackers – all books about Australian animals.

She lives in Brisbane with her very supportive husband, two gorgeous daughters, a dog and a cat. She likes to escape to the countryside on her beautiful horse Oscar whenever she can.

Her latest book, Everything I’ve Never Said, is inspired by her own experiences with her daughter, who has Rett Syndrome. Exploring disability in young people and the how it can effect family dynamics, Everything I’ve Never Said tells the story of an eleven-year-old girl called Ava who has spent her whole life unable to communicate. Ava would like nothing more that to be able to tell her family that she loves them …

Everything I’ve Never Said is published by University of Queensland Press and is available to order from Booktopia.

Top 10 Tips for Writing a Novel Inspired by a True Story
by Samantha Wheeler

1) When you begin, allow yourself to ‘free write’ a few chapters to see how the voices sound on paper. This will give you a starting point for character development and help capture a more authentic voice..

2) Don’t feel you have to include everyone and everything that ever happened. Be selective. Cut the waffle. Keep to the important parts of the plot and only include the characters the story needs.

3) Be prepared to write several drafts. Sometimes the true plot of a personal story is hard to nail in the planning stages. Like me, you may only discover what you really want to write about by draft six, which may be significantly different to all previous drafts. The first few drafts of my latest story were about the mother, whereas it was really the daughter’s story I wanted to tell.

4) Don’t be afraid to put the story away for a while. Stories based on true events can be hard to read objectively: we are too close to them. Time and distance can help to see things more clearly.

5) Don’t worry about what your mother will think. She’ll love it.

6) Not all scenes or characters have to be based exactly on the true events. Using poetic licence to invent characters or plot points to enhance the story is perfectly acceptable.

7) Just because it’s based on real life, it doesn’t mean the plot is automatically believable. Check the credibility: is the ending too corny or too convenient?

8) Don’t try to be too clever. People relate to people. Simple wins every time.

9) If there’s a character or event in your real story that is too emotional for you to write about, don’t let that stop you. Can you invent a different character or event that works for the story and allows you to keep writing?

10) Your story is worth telling. Keep writing.

Everything I've Never Saidby Samantha Wheeler

Everything I've Never Said

by Samantha Wheeler

Ava would like nothing more than to tell her family she loves them, particularly her big sister, Nic. But Ava has Rett syndrome - she can't talk, can't nod her head, can't even point at a communication card. She understands everything, but no one understands her.

When tragedy strikes her family, Ava becomes even more determined to talk. But it?s not until she meets occupational therapist Kieran and new friend Aimee that she is hopeful for change - and to be heard at last.

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