You can't make this up.

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  • You can't make this up.

    Many of us get our writing ideas from true life incidents, but sometimes those reality pieces fit together too neatly or in too strange a way to make believable fiction.
    For example: A man is found dead, thrown off a side of a road. The medical examiner opines he died a week or more before his body was spotted by a family cleaning out their barn. He was strangled and his carotid artery was punctured. A more unfortunate detail is he was found off the side of Carrion Lane.
    So the question, being of no use to those of us who waste their time or who do not waste their time writing, is have you ever dealt with truth that was too strange to make into fiction?
    Carrion: the decaying flesh of an animal.

  • #2
    Re: You can't make this up.

    Originally posted by jmpowell7 View Post
    So the question . . . is have you ever dealt with truth that was too strange to make into fiction?
    Yes. Personal experience. Yes.
    Last edited by TigerFang; 03-10-2017, 06:26 AM.
    "Go to the edge of the cliff and jump off. Build your wings on the way down.- - Ray Bradbury

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    • #3
      Re: You can't make this up.

      Yes. I have written scenes in old west screenplays describing actual events from history and had readers tell me to cut the scenes because they were unbelievable. "No one would ever do that."
      We're making a movie here, not a film! - Kit Ramsey

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      • #4
        Re: You can't make this up.

        When Lewis & Clark undertook their historic expedition across what is now the western United States, they had in their company a man named Toussaint Charbonneau. Charbonneau's wife, Sacagawea, and their young son accompanied the Corps of Discovery on the trip.

        As a young girl, Sacagawea had been stolen from her Native American tribe by another warring tribe and enslaved by them. This was a common practice in those cultures. Eventually, Sacagawea was traded (sold) to Charbonneau who made her his wife and mother of their child.

        No war party in the Plains Indian cultures ever took a woman and child with them, and this alone kept the Corps of Discovery from being attacked many times over on their journey, although at first, they were unaware of this.

        At a critical point in their trip when the group had no horses — for they had either traded them for necessities, including food, or eaten them — the team came upon a plains tribe who owned many horses. Unfortunately, the Corps of Discovery had long since run out of the prized blue beads with which they once traded freely and had little or nothing with which to bargain except perhaps a coin struck with Thomas Jefferson's likeness, the man they told the Native Americans was “their new great father.”

        The chief of this tribe was not much impressed by this now ragtag and not only horse-poor but horseless group, despite their marching parade and display of the unique air rifle — a rifle which made no sound or smoke — demonstrated by Lewis. The Corps of Discovery desperately needed horses or they would likely not survive the rest of the journey westward.

        The chief was not inclined to trade for or even give the Corps of Discovery any horses because he saw nothing of value in the goods they offered. At this point, things looked grim for the Corps of Discovery.

        Then, Charbonneau's wife Sacagawea somehow came to the attention of the chief of this tribe. Lo and behold, the chief recognized Sacagawea as his long lost sister stolen by a raiding war party so many years before.

        If ever in history there was a true-to-life Hollywood moment, this one must take the cake.

        Thanks to this turn of events, the Corps of Discovery received the horses they so desperately needed and were able to complete their trip to the west coast.

        Later, at another critical point, a vote needed to be taken to decide the course of action the Corps of Discovery would take next.

        It was the first time a woman (Sacagawea) and a black man (York) cast a vote under the auspices of the fledgling United States government.

        It all happened because a woman traveling with the men was reunited with her brother who helped them get horses to complete their journey.
        Last edited by TigerFang; 03-16-2017, 07:10 PM.
        "Go to the edge of the cliff and jump off. Build your wings on the way down.- - Ray Bradbury

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        • #5
          Re: You can't make this up.

          .
          I heard the starting gun


          sigpic

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          • #6
            Re: You can't make this up.

            i read in a nonfiction book one time...i believe it was CONFEDERATES IN THE ATTIC, by Tony Horwitz...that at Ft. Sumpter, SC, a person asked a guide something along the lines of, "why were so many Civil War battles fought at national parks?"

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            • #7
              Re: You can't make this up.

              Originally posted by TigerFang View Post
              If ever there was a true-to-life Hollywood moment in history, this one must take the cake.
              !
              "Friends make the worst enemies." Frank Underwood

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              • #8
                Re: You can't make this up.

                Originally posted by DavidK View Post
                !
                And yet, in Training Day, when the hood about to kill the cop finds out the cop had protected his sister from a possible rape, critics said that was too unrealistic for such a coincidence to happen.
                We're making a movie here, not a film! - Kit Ramsey

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                • #9
                  Re: You can't make this up.

                  Originally posted by billmarq View Post
                  And yet, in Training Day, when the hood about to kill the cop finds out the cop had protected his sister from a possible rape, critics said that was too unrealistic for such a coincidence to happen.
                  critic
                  /ˈkridik/
                  noun
                  1. a person jealous of those who are able to write scripts or screenplays.
                  "Go to the edge of the cliff and jump off. Build your wings on the way down.- - Ray Bradbury

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                  • #10
                    Re: You can't make this up.

                    The problem is "true life incidents" aren't a story.

                    Just pulling something out of the air, assume you (and 200 other people) saw a truck go through a street light pole with no damage to the truck or the pole. Assume several people even recorded it happening, from different angles with their phone cameras. So it's "verified".

                    That would definitely be a bizarre true life incident.

                    But what's the story? I'm sure you could use it as a catalyst to jump off to all kinds of strange fictional stories -- but chances are once these stories were complete, the truck through the light pole thing would get cut out. After your imagination finishes its job, the truck and light pole would probably seem mundane.
                    "I just couldn't live in a world without me."

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                    • #11
                      Re: You can't make this up.

                      Originally posted by StoryWriter View Post
                      The problem is "true life incidents" aren't a story.
                      Sure they're stories. It's the stuff from which biographies, autobiographies, and biopics are made.
                      "Go to the edge of the cliff and jump off. Build your wings on the way down.- - Ray Bradbury

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                      • #12
                        Re: You can't make this up.

                        The problem is "true life incidents" aren't a story.

                        Originally posted by TigerFang View Post
                        Sure they're stories. It's the stuff from which biographies, autobiographies, and biopics are made.
                        Biographies, autobiographies and biopics are a string of "true life incidents" and events, often mingled with fiction and/or guesses, especially if they're historical.

                        Maybe I was wrong, but I thought this thread was referring to a "true life incident" (singular). Something that odd that happened that happened that people would think was stranger than fiction.

                        The first example was an ironic incident. A dead body found on Carrion Lane. Which isn't anything close to a whole story.

                        Another example referred to "scenes" in Western movie, which are by definition not a complete story.

                        You're example about Lewis and Clark was a series of events. Interesting, but props the incident needed to have impact. It was an incident that had to be put into context with a series of proceeding events. The single incident isn't the story.

                        The first definition of "incident" that pops up on a Google search is: "1. an event or occurrence." I've had this discussion before on a different board, when somebody thought I should write a script about a true-life "incident", so if I misunderstood the OP's original message, I apologize.

                        You would probably have trouble writing a whole story on the incident of a moron who asked: "Why were so many Civil War battles fought at national parks?" (Not without a healthy dose of imagination anyway.)

                        These are the posts that I referring to, in this thread, when I wrote: "The problem is "true life incidents" aren't a story."
                        "I just couldn't live in a world without me."

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                        • #13
                          Re: You can't make this up.

                          I agree with many of the points being said. But one thing is true of the usefulness of such real life stories: When you research a story or something at great length, you will discover very interesting stuff to include in your story. For instance, when William Goldman wrote Butch Cassidy many of the great scenes where from research. The same goes for Rudyard Kipling and most of his best works. Captains Courageous came about just by interviewing and talking to real sailors and dock workers. This is just two examples, but there are undeniable benefits if you learn to use those nuggets in a structure. Through research you will find many such things, maybe so many that you have trouble in deciding what to include and how.

                          This aspect of writing is, to me, criminally underrated in learing to write a story. Mind you, i'm not only talking of research. You don't even have to have a story before you go and explore. If you want to find a story on a subject, just explore that subject in books and in real life.

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                          • #14
                            Re: You can't make this up.

                            Originally posted by StoryWriter View Post
                            The problem is "true life incidents" aren't a story.
                            I am not sure what your point is. In my example, I never indicated that my screenplay was based on a single incident, and it was not. I wrote a fictional story that included many scenes based on actual recorded incidents in the life of Joaquin Murietta. One or two of those incidents were deemed "too unrealistic" by a few readers even though they were based on actual events. That was my point.

                            I never claimed that one should write a screenplay based on a single event, believable or not. Nor would I.
                            We're making a movie here, not a film! - Kit Ramsey

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                            • #15
                              Re: You can't make this up.

                              Originally posted by billmarq View Post
                              I am not sure what your point is. In my example, I never indicated that my screenplay was based on a single incident, and it was not. I wrote a fictional story that included many scenes based on actual recorded incidents in the life of Joaquin Murietta. One or two of those incidents were deemed "too unrealistic" by a few readers even though they were based on actual events. That was my point.

                              I never claimed that one should write a screenplay based on a single event, believable or not. Nor would I.
                              So I'm guessing he did not, in fact, become Zorro.

                              In all seriousness though. My guess would be that, when it comes to story telling, any event is possible in the framework of the story rules. One jarring incident might stand out too much and cause a momentary bump in the flow. I think the writer should use his expert sleight of hand to set up those jarring incidents in a way that makes them seem more plausible.

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