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Writing Books/Turning memoirs into fiction


Dear Susan,

I am in the process of turning my memoirs into fiction book. The main reason behind this decision was not wanting to hurt people around me who form the basis of the characters in the book and not to reveal the whole truth and real facts which in return might even hurt me.

However, I am very worried about losing the main selling point of the book. I want the readers to know that the characters are based on real people and the main plot and themes are again based on real-life events. How can I achieve this, by a foreword? Is it possible to market a book as 'based on true events'. Or do you recommend that I give up the whole non-fiction genre and try to turn the book into a properly developed fiction and market it this way?

Your reply will be highly appreciated. Thank you.

Hello Ozlem:

So many novels have been based on true stories - some, like Jane Smiley's Pulitzer Prize winning A THOUSAND ACRES - have even been based on other fiction works, in this case, on Shakespeare's KING LEAR - that it would not be possible to list them.

In many of these books, I have found - not in a foreword, but on a single page - an explanation by the author to the effect that the novel is based on a true story. It isn't necessary to go into a whole lot of detail. Your publisher will no doubt be able to advise you further on this.

I hope this helps. If it does, a nice rating would be greatly appreciated. I am proud of my high scores over 1900+ questions. If you need more help, please visit my website at

And good luck with your writing!  

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Susan Rand


I can answer questions about the elements of fiction and non-fiction writing: how to get started, writing techniques, re-writing, etc. I will NOT write for you, do critiques except from my website at, or give you ideas. I will not answer home-or-schoolwork questions in any category. If English is your second language, please say so, and I will make an exception. Please submit no more than one or two questions at once, as I tend to go into detail in my answers.


I wrote my first book in 1957 and have been writing and studying writing since. I have a BA in Written Communications, and have taught writing both privately and through adult education for 15 years. Have also edited (fiction books) for an online publisher and edited/wrote more than 100 articles for a teen sex education site. Currently writing web content and mentoring beginning writers.

BA degree in Written Communication

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