Why my first short story (out soon!) is inspired by true events – and isn’t

Last night I finished the first draft of a short story which I will publish in the next day or two. And I had to decide whether to add that it is “inspired by true events” or not.

I decided against it. Why? Two reasons.

Firstly, not that it is a deal breaker for me as a reader or viewer, but who has not been disappointed with cultural fare that is labelled in this way? Usually when you have a film or book start with the line “inspired by true events” or similar, you know you are likely in for a rough-ish ride.

I chose to write my first short story with events in them that really happened.

Secondly, all fiction writing is real (exceptions proving the rule); indeed, all writing is necessarily inspired by “true” events. So to label fiction as being “based on true events” is fundamentally tautological. And frankly, annoying. Not just because it can be a facetious marketing ploy, but because it obfuscates the important knowledge that all writing – except very, very bad stuff – is always and inherently based on human experience of reality. Especially genres like science fiction and fantasy are inspired by true events! They are real in a very fundamental way. At an ontological level, Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” is more real than “The Corrections” by Jonathan Franzen ever could be.

The best writing overcomes the prose of everyday and turns it into something that is more than just true facts, but a higher, more real level of human existence. This is one of the threads running through my short story too. Although it is a quick yarn about a road trip.

Stay tuned to find out when and where you can read it.