How do I go about writing a book that is loosely based on my life?

Question: I am an 80s fanatic and know a lot and love a lot of what happened from 1980-1989 and would like to write a book about it. The problem is that I was only four-years-old when 1980 started. I want to write the book as though I was 14 when it started as it would seem a lot more realistic. Can I still write it as I am telling the story or would it be better if I told the story from a character's POV that is sort of based on me if that makes any sense.

Answer: You would have a lot more freedom if you created a fictional character. A 14-year-old would be able to many do things a four-year-old would not. An older character would be more aware of what was happening in the world - news, politics, culture, etc.

Also, fiction gives you the ability to include other characters who might bear some resemblance to people you knew, but with enough differences that the real people could not object (or worse, attempt to exercise control over how they are portrayed). It's often better to make your characters amalgamations of several real life people.

Creating a fictional character will also force you to think about this person more. When writing about ourselves, we sometimes take for granted aspects of our lives. We can easily draw upon and be limited by "what really happened." With a fictional character, you can choose what happens to her. You can construct a background and a personality that fits the needs of the story, making her uniquely qualified to achieve the story goal. She can do things you couldn't, and have limitations you didn't have, but all to a purpose.

Bear in mind that you have a dual purpose here. On the one hand, you may have aspects of the 1980s that you want to visit and explore. That's the landscape or the terrain of the book. On the other hand, you need to build a meaningful story that will force the character to explore the landscape in a quest to solve a problem or bring balance back to her world. Ultimately, how she resolves that problem, the choice she is forced to make, will convey the message of the story.

Maybe that message will be what the 1980s mean to you.

Best of luck.

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