What makes authors write fiction inspired by real events?

By drawing on personal experiences, or historical events, authors can create compelling narrative. Fiction inspired by real events may move an author to create a powerful emotional response in the reader. By melding two or more stories into one, authors can create spectacular fiction.

Real events are often stranger than Fiction

The saying – Truth is stranger than Fiction – was written by Lord Byron, in Don Juan (1823):

 Tis strange – but true; for truth is always strange; Stranger than fiction; if it could be told, how much would novels gain by the exchange!

Lord Byron 1823

What is wrong with cliches?

Writers who use clichés too much are seen to be lacking in originality and may be lazy. Therefore, common advice to writers is avoid cliches unless you firmly believe one may improve your narrative.

Although I follow the herd in the main, I find many cliches compelling because they encapsulate, often in colourful language, the precise meaning.

For example – Truth is stranger than Fiction – sums up the essence of this article in a phrase made up of five concise words. How can I improve on it as a heading?

How powerful is fiction inspired by real events?

Fiction based on a true story and fiction inspired by real events is often more powerful and compelling than stories which are based purely on imagination.

An author who is able to draw on real events and weave them into imaginative fiction, can produce compelling narrative.

Narrative that draws the reader into an imaginary world that feels so real it becomes believable.

I always ask one question of my literary fiction. It may seem unreal, but could it have happened. If so, then it is believable and worth writing.

Invisible Enemy

Invisible Enemy is a Mystery Suspense Thriller short story.

Four real events inspired me to write the story. They were:

  • When I read about Jonathan Guyot who was sentenced to ten years in a Paris prison in 2017 for stealing fifty kilogrammes of cocaine.
  • The Prologue to Dan Brown’s – Inferno.
  • The absurd reality that a microscopic virus could do as much damage as a third world war.
  • Reading many novels based on real events

How Inspirational books based on true stories happen

Invisible Enemy is a psychological thriller book based on true stories, which the book preface sets out to explain.

“The air is full of tunes. I just reach up and pick one.”

Willie Nelson

The air is also full of stories. Sometimes they fall to the ground and rot before they get written. I’m always waiting for one, like the Invisible Enemy to fall into my lap.

With the world obsessed by the Covid-19 pandemic, I imagined how a microscopic organism we shared the planet with might view humans if it could. In quiet moments, I distanced myself from reality and took a helicopter view of the human species. I was shocked.

In between my night and daydreams, I had an idea for a short book.

Then while I was researching, I stumbled across this story, which gave me the inspiration and impetus to write it.

The Story of Jonathan Guyot

The Paris Police Force was hit by a series of scandals from 2014 to 2017. It was rocked by the case of a thirty-six-year-old Paris Drug Squad officer. Jonathan Guyot was sentenced to ten years in prison in 2017 for stealing fifty kilogrammes of cocaine from a safe in the Paris Police headquarters.

Fiction inspired by real events
Court Sketch / AFP PHOTO / Benoit PEYRUCQ

Sketch of the accused in court

The photo above taken on March 7, 2017 shows a court sketch of French police officer Jonathan Guyot (3rd from left) speaking during his trial, along with nine others including Farid Kharraki.

They were accused of the theft of over 50kg of cocaine from the headquarters of the Paris police in July 2014, at the Paris criminal court. Jonathan Guyot, a French anti-drugs policeman was sentenced to 10 years in prison on March 17 for stealing nearly 50 kilogrammes (110 pounds) of cocaine from a safe in the headquarters of the Paris force.

The presiding judge in handing down the maximum sentence to Jonathan Guyot, a 36-year-old officer in the drugs squad, said he had been proved guilty “beyond a shadow of a doubt.”

Seen by Security Guards

Security guards saw Guyot entering the headquarters, known as 36 Quai des Orfevres, late at night in July 2014 when the drugs worth around two million euros went missing. They saw him carrying two bags.

A week later, the Police detained Guyot. He had twenty-four-thousand euros in cash on his person and the code of a safe saved in his mobile phone.

Guyot, who had been an officer in the Paris Drug Squad since 2010, denied responsibility for the theft and maintained his innocence.

But an investigating magistrate deemed his alibis “extravagant”. And the presiding judge, in handing Jonathan Guyot the maximum sentence, said the prosecutor had proved him guilty “beyond a shadow of a doubt.”

The drugs remained unaccounted for, but drug-dealer Farid Kharraki was convicted of selling the stolen cocaine and sentenced to five years in prison.

Incredible fiction inspired by real events

Here are 21 incredible books based on true stories well worth reading.

Books based on true stories are ideal for when facts leave off and a little imagination (and outright speculation) is needed to fill the gaps in a story or a reading list.

From the teenage concubine who ruled China for 47 years and the gorilla who lived most of his life in a shopping mall to the Borden axe murders, here are 21 of the best books based on true stories.

Book Riot

Final Thoughts

Almost every story I write includes in some measure a personal experience, or an historical event.

I had as much fun as I have ever had writing Invisible Enemy.

Sparked by the crazy thought of what an invisible virus might think of humans who ran around like chickens without heads because the virus happened to be in town, led me to the typewriter.

Fiction inspired by real events moved me to create Invisible Enemy, a bizarre but thought-provoking story. By melding my odd thoughts with another story into one, I was able to create a fascinating psychological thriller of a short story.