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  • Writer's pictureVeronica Cline Barton

Fact to Fiction; Extracting the Essence from Real Life People, Events and Locations to Use as Writin

Truth is stranger than fiction so often—don’t you love it when you’re watching the news, listening to interviews, or reading the papers and BAM! Inspiration bonanza—bells ringing (OK, maybe I played a few too many penny slots last week) as you rush to find paper and pen, phone, or laptop to write or type these ideas down. I look for writing inspiration everyday, no matter where I am. I don’t look for exact representations of scenes or characters to write about per se, but I do look for the one little tidbit that I see or hear that gives me that ‘BAM!’ to get the ideas rolling.

I’m a writer of fiction, not a news reporter or biographical writer. I’m very cognizant and respectful of a real life person’s privacy (I even fictionalized the royal family in my series out of respect to their real life activities). I’m also very respectful of libel and slander laws and trademarks and such—I don’t want to be contacted by any legal teams thank you very much. I don’t need every real life detail, told and shown to the nth degree.

What I do look for is the essence of a person or story, the unique attribute(s) that got me to listen or watch or read about the experience in the first place. The essence that intrigues me could be the sound of a voice, the words used, the color of a dress, the emotions a picture brings up in me. I never know exactly what essence will trigger an idea for me—I try and keep an open mind. It could be the smell of a food at a restaurant, the sound of the wind blowing against the trees. Here’s a list of some of the things that give me the #IdeaEssence to get the writing flow started.

mask collection

People and the things they do…

Friends and family: One of my greatest sources of inspiration. I pull so much from the conversations, dinner celebrations, reunion reminiscing—I think the best essence pulled here is the sense of happiness and joy I feel when I’m around these people. I try and reflect the essence of these feelings in my writings. I want the characters to have these real life feelings and experiences in the story, to make them more lifelike and relatable.

Celebrities: I feel so sorry for the people who have every single moment of their lives in the lime light, but I do love to read about them, I cannot lie. What intrigues me the most is the reactions of celebrities, especially to stressful situations—not that we little people don’t have the same, but we’re not being reported in every newspaper on the planet. I look for facial expressions, hand motions, how they try and get away from the perpetual paparazzi—this is the essence that I look for as a writer. I want my characters who are fictionally famous to have the mannerisms expected, both the good and the bad.

Politicians: Well, um—sorry but right now I don’t have any essence from this source other than eau de pew…#JustSayin

Heroes and heroines: Pure inspiration here for me, what makes a hero do what he/she does? I don’t think that any of us are born heroes or heroines per se—I believe it’s a last second push, something so overpowering that takes over a person to make them do the heroic deed. Is it a good vs. evil push, a save the person in distress? What gives a person superhuman strength to lift a car off someone or climb a building wall unaided? Heroes don’t just have to be superhuman either—acts of kindness, people who help others in need, people who see a bad situation and fix it, these are essence attributes I want in my main characters for sure.

diana fountain hyde park1

Events shape our thinking and actions…

Tragedies and Natural disasters: Everyone of us has experienced something in our life, either personally or of such public magnitude it’s had an impact on our lives. I can remember days of wreaked havoc caused by tornados that flattened neighborhoods, hurricanes that annihilated cities, earthquakes that crushed city infrastructures–the pain and sorrow associated with these events is enormous. The death of public figures, deliberate, fatal attacks, all cause an outcry of human emotions as well, from fear, to sadness, to defeat, to outrage. The essence of these emotions is very powerful, and can greatly enhance a storyline.

Holidays and Celebrations: #RoyalWedding anyone? Santa Clause at Christmas? Now I know everyone doesn’t get as excited as I do when these events occur, but I look not only for the essences of joy and excitement people like me feel, but also the sadness or outrage they might cause to others. (Veronica the killjoy takes particular notice of the more negative sides and the essence they generate, going to have to do something with that girl… 🙂 )

tower bridge london

Locations and their history inspire me always…

Story behind the story: I’ve changed what I look for when I’m travelling these days. Of course I want to see the sites and explore new places. I’m on a different essence hunt when I visit these places—have there been hauntings (and if so, who and why); what’s the energy I feel when I visit a place ( this is real for me, I can sense if there’s been immense tragedy or loss immediately). I want to know who designed and built the buildings we see, who lived there, what events transpired. These details give me new insights, new essences that I can use when describing locations in my stories. Snapping pictures and taking selfies isn’t enough for me anymore, I need the background and details.

Flag sept 11 tribute

September 11th, Always in Our Hearts and Minds…

Today’s post will come out on September 11th.  I’d like to think about and remember the day that certainly left its mark on my mind in so many ways. It’s been 17 years, and I still remember every moment of that morning; where I was, the conversations I had; the feelings I experienced watching the events of that day unfold; the aftermath as the world tried to get back to normal living. Blessings to all, Never Forget.

Be inspired, grab that essence that might give you new insights and directions.

Crowns and Kisses,


P.S. Hug your friends and loved ones today—Gemma would approve 🙂

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