1. Ashley Aldworth
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    Ashley Aldworth New Member

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    Writing about your own life story

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Ashley Aldworth, May 1, 2015.

    Hello, a new writer here...

    I have always hard issues expressing myself and communicating, due to a troubled childhood, and have always found the easiest way to express myself is through writing, so I thought why not try to make something of it!

    So this has led me onto the idea of writing my life story, about the trials I faced and how I have used something negative and turned it into something positive. A typical triumph over evil kind of thing!

    Just a couple of questions to help get me started.

    When writing a life story like this what is the correct way to introduce real life people into my book? Should I approach them about using their name? Create a pseudo name for them?

    Thinking about the most successful autobiographies that you know, would first person perspective work better than third person? Maybe even a combination of the two? As if two people are telling different parts of the story?

    Like I said, I am a new writer and any kind of advice is welcome, along with any other tips that may help me on this venture.

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. Lance Schukies
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    Lance Schukies Active Member

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    I am writing my life story but as fiction so far I have 3-4 books I can do.
     
  3. GoldenFeather
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    GoldenFeather Active Member

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    If you want to make it a personal memoir/biography, I would recommend sticking to first person because it will be directly from you, as if you are telling them your story yourself. Third person is more formal and there is a level of detachment there. So it's up to you how you wanna play it.

    Also, I've never written an autobiography so I can't give good advice on how to introduce characters, but I would imagine after a proper introduction where you explain why you decided to write an autobiography, or perhaps you can introduce the central struggle that made you want to write about your life, you can then start from the beginning and introduce people as they become relevant to the story.

    For instance, if a parent is a central part of your story, don't just introduce them as your parent. Begin explaining a situation you were in, and then introduce your parent as being the protagonist/bad guy/person who influence you to make a decision etc. I always felt that introductions for the sake of introduction were redundant and pointless. Bring it to our attention when it's needed.

    Hope I could help!
     
  4. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Just a suggestion ...if you fictionalise this story, you won't have a problem 'naming' anybody in it. Furthermore, you will have a lot more leeway about what you write.

    If you make the story about somebody similar to you, but not exactly the same, you might end up surprising yourself a bit. You could even change gender. If you're a woman, your main character could be a man, or vice-versa. What might this character do that you didn't do? What if the people around this character were slightly (or greatly) different from the people who surrounded you in real life?

    There is nothing more powerful than the ability to change things. And with fiction, you can change anything you like. Is there some point where you might have done something different if you had it to do all over again? In fiction you can give yourself this opportunity ...and see where it leads you. You might be surprised.

    I don't know if there is anything cathartic in just rehashing the past. However, CHANGING the past? Now there's something that might be fun, enlightening and worthwhile. You can still use first person if that's your preferred method of writing. But if it's 'fiction' you can afford to be honest. If you're writing a real autobiography, you need to be VERY careful what you say about real people. And even if you give them fictitious names, if other people figure out who they are, you could be in hot water. However, if it's fiction, nobody has a leg to stand on.

    I would DEFINITELY take that route myself. To some extent I have already done it. However, it's your story and your life. Good luck, whatever you decide!
     
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  5. Lance Schukies
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    Lance Schukies Active Member

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    I used third person , allows you to swap pov. so far my first book I had rave reviews from beta readers, they relate to the characters even my protagonist the corrupt cop.
    I should point out it was after reading Michael Parkinson autobiography I found it so boring for such a interesting guy. that I thought only a story would make a life story interesting, and you have licence to exaggerate like I have with the corrupt cop.
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2015
  6. VirtuallyRealistic
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    VirtuallyRealistic Active Member

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    I'm not sure if there could be any legal backlash to using people's real names. I think as long as what you say is factual, there can't be any negative repercussions. However, if you exaggerate or lie it could be consider slander. That's something I would be very careful about.

    I haven't read any autobiographies, but I would think first-person is the route to go. It's an account of your story, so it should be told from your point-of-view; not from a narrator.
     
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  7. Ashley Aldworth
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    Ashley Aldworth New Member

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    Thanks for all your input so far.

    I would like to keep it completely fictional, so that people get a true insight to what I have been through.

    The name thing is really bothering me at the moment, I'll ask a few people if they mind being in it, the main problem is that a big aspect of the story will be about a constant on going battle with my father, something that I don't think will ever be resolved, and writing about certain events will put him in a bad light, nothing that is criminal or damaging, but I doubt he would be happy about me writing about it, yet it is a crucial part of the story...
     
  8. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Do you mean you'd like to keep it completely factual? Or non-fictional? If it's going to be completely fictional, changing the names seems like an obvious choice.
     
  9. Aled James Taylor
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    Aled James Taylor Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't think there is a market for autobiographies of people who aren't famous, so unless you' actually well known, I'd be thinking of the story as fiction. It's always good to draw on your own experiences and write what you know.

    If you choose to write in first person, you can only describe events as viewed through the eyes of the main character, so you can't describe what other characters are thinking or what they're doing when the main character is not present. If this is too limiting, third person may be the way to go. If you're unsure, don't let this doubt stop you as you can always edit the text to change it from one to the other.
     
  10. Ashley Aldworth
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    Ashley Aldworth New Member

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    Another thing I will add, I'm not expecting this to be a massive hit. Not looking to sell loads of copies or anything, its more of a personal exercise. friends or family, maybe my students (I run my own karate school) and anyone interested in my story as a few people have suggested it.
     
  11. Ashley Aldworth
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    Ashley Aldworth New Member

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    Also regarding the narration of the story, I had an idea about narrating it from a third person point of view from the present time, with certain flashback stories coming from a first person perspective as if it was a younger me talking in the past... what are your thoughts on this?

    Thanks
     
  12. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    Hi there.

    I used first person as I was telling my story from my point of view. I also changed everyone's names in the book so I could keep it totally anonymous. If you are using real names, then you need to get each person's permission and I think you would also need to let them read the book and get their approval on it before you publish it. Don't quote me on that but unless someone's dead or in prison, they are not going to want you writing bad things about them which will affect their daily lives.

    Similarly, if there are bad/unpleasant things in your story that concern certain people, you need to consider how this will affect their families/friends/work colleagues which is another good reason to change the names of the characters and write your story under a pseudonym.

    When dealing with a personal true story or memoir, you have to take a long hard look at the bigger picture.

    To make it a little easier, when I did mine, I changed all the names but kept the initials which made it easier for me to remember who I was writing about as opposed to having a list to refer to so, my son, whose real initials are JJC, became James Joel Chissick. My daughter, JEC became Julie Elaine Chissick, my eldest, LC became Lucy Chissick, hubs, RC became Ray Chissick and so on.
     
  13. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    This is true to a certain point ...

    I kinda depends what you've gone through/overcome.

    There are shelves upon shelves of true life stories from unknown authors telling their tales of suffering through child abuse and how they got over it. Accounts from adopters who have gone through the system, adoptees let down by the system. I've read one book about a girl who's life was turned upside down because her mother suffered from Munchhausen's by Proxy and would constantly take her daughter to the hospital demanding tests for a heart condition which never existed. This went on to such an extent that the girl did actually become ill.

    Sometimes, it depends on the story you are telling although there's no doubt, if you are famous, you could publish the football scores and someone would buy it!
     

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