Too Close for Comfort

I’m writing about a historical figure. Let’s call her M. Yesterday I went to the library to feed my schlock novel addiction check out some books, and I was drawn to a book because it had stars in the title. I read the flap and note that it takes place in [M’s hometown redacted]. And it’s about [M’s profession redacted].

It turns out that someone has fictionalized M’s life, and given the main character a new name, the same background, but a very different life course. M has a great life story, this is why I’m writing about her. The plot circumstance probably makes for a great story, even if it’s historically inaccurate. The new name helps.

But do I read it? Will it mess with the facts I have about M? I am thinking of visiting M’s hometown this summer if I can manage it. Maybe that will imprint M’s real life on my brain. Will I learn anything from this novel? And yet, how can I not read a fictional account of M’s life?

What’s too close to your writing for comfort?

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10 responses to “Too Close for Comfort

  1. Hmm, that’s a really good question. I’m not sure I avoid anything particularly, though I definitely seek out the stuff that’s relevant to my project and pray it will rub off on me.

  2. Subject-similarity doesn’t bug me too much, but there are certain authors whose voices are so strong I sometimes find myself echoing them after I read their stuff. I’m fine once I notice though (or when I reread, anyway).

  3. Indy,
    I don’t know what will work for you but i know that with my own situation I stayed away from Midnight in Paris until I was finished with the rough draft. If you are fictionalizing a historical figure’s life and you read or see someone else’s vision, I would think you’d have to internalize something. I’ve been working on it so long I didn’t want to take any chances.
    Back away, Indy…

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