Stevie Carroll (stevie_carroll) wrote,
Stevie Carroll

On Contemporary Fiction Inspired by Real Life Tragedy

Before I write up the next batch of books I've read, I'm pondering a trope shared by one of them (or rather one story in a two-story book) and a free online short story I read recently. Both stories felt to me that the author was using a real life tragedy (s)he had read about in one country's news as the background to one character in a story set in another country.

In the short story, I recognised the Australian heroine's background tragedy as (I assume) being taken almost complete from the well-documented story of Katie Piper. In fact, looking at Wikipedia just now, I think the entire backstory was identical. I felt very uncomfortable reading the story, and continued because I wanted to see how the author would handle the resolution (not as well as I would have liked) and whether the basis of the story would be acknowledged (it wasn't).

In the short novel, the background details were probably based on the July 7th bombings, although they may have been based on the Madrid bombings. I was less uncomfortable in this case, although I may have marked the story higher if the background had been a more common type of major tragedy (eg large-scale arson would have served equally well), but the story did attempt to deal sensitively with PTSD in one of the rescuers.

So, is it just me? How closely can a story mirror a specific news item before it becomes uncomfortable to readers? Is this less of an issue when the story concerns a less tragic circumstance?
Tags: asking the hive mind, in the news, inspiration, on writing
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