“My Dad Abused Me, And May Have Killed My Mom. Everyone Tells Me I Need To Write A Book About My Life! Where Should I Begin?”
I’d go even further in suggesting that you protect yourself legally. Don’t simply fictionalize your experience. As Angela notes, if even one person recognizes you and who you’re writing about, that might be libel and name changing won’t offer much protection. That’s particularly true if you hint at a crime as serious as murder.
I’d suggest a different approach. Use the experience and the understanding you’ve acquired to write a totally different story. Don’t just alter names or mix up the narrative. Retain only your struggles and emotions. Those are what matter most. For the plot, look for other accounts of abuse and build your novel around one or more of them.
If you write this book, you may find yourself struggling with and then gaining a clearer understanding of what you went through. My life has been nothing like yours. But I did face stressful situations when I worked at a children’s hospital caring for sick and sometimes dying children and teens. It could be grim coming to work and knowing that perhaps one or two of the adorable kids I was caring for would die. I coped by doing the best I could for them. Writing four books about that has helped me to make sense of those experiences and how they shaped me.
Also, I wrote primarily to help those going through similar experiences cope better, both emotionally and practically. You might do the same with your book. Writing a recovery book for others will do you far more good than writing a revenge one for yourself.
Also, making a good income as an author is difficult, as I am sure Angela will tell you. That is particularly with adult fiction. You might want to take a different approach and write children and young adult stories that would have helped you when your were enduring all those horrors. You know the feelings. Come up with stories that ease the hurt.
Don’t restrict your literary explorations to realistic literature (i.e. human families in modern houses). If you have an imaginative knack, experiment with stories set in different worlds. Many children’s stories do that.
Read the original, unsanitized Hans Christian Andersen stories. They often deal with death in an age when many children died young. I know. I wrote a version of those stories that retained their original plots and was called Stories for Girls. So many were about death, I realized, that I sometimes think about writing another called Stories about Dying for children facing death. In short, use Andersen as a model. Write like he did, but deal with anger and abuse instead of death. Indeed, his most famous short story, The Little Match Girl, is about both abuse and dying.
You have another advantage as an author. You have four children you love. Write for them as if they were going through what you went through. Imagine yourself showing them the way out of that darkness. Write for them and you will be writing for others.
–Michael W. Perry, author of My Nights with Leukemia and other books.
see a shrink
dont even think about writing a book like this
even if you avoid huge legal problems
your book wont sell enough to make any money
i ran a small publishing company and we got way too many of these submitted which we always turn down
no trad publisher would print this book
and if you self publish you wont recover your costs
certainly not make min wage for your time
the sad truth is that nobody cares
there are a billion stories like this out there maybe six or 7 billion
and way too many of them wrote a book about it and failed big
if you were famous or they did something aamazingly different then your book might have a chance
you need professional help not trying to write a book
You have given such thoughtful advice!! I wrote about my experience when my dad was sick. The writing instructor was very impressed, but after I wrote it I felt much better. It was never published. Possibly if the person just writes everything out and get the feelings out they will feel better and be able to go on to write other things.
I have the Hans Christian Andersen stories and could not figure out how to repurpose them. Congrats on doing that.
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The Art and Craft of Writing and Editing
Writing is a constant dialogue between author and reader.
The craft of writing involves an interchange of emotions between an author and a reader. An author creates a story line, conflict, and characters, gives his characters words to speak, and then hands off these materials to a reader. This process results in a constant dialogue between the mental imagery produced by a reader and that proposed by the author.
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