“Hollywoodizing” My Life

My thesis is a YA novel based on my life, specifically growing up with three legally-blind sisters. I hope to connect with siblings in similar situations. More about that later.

The problem is, whenever I read a book or watch a movie that is “based on” the life of [person], I immediately wonder what the producers/authors did to “jazz up” the story to be interesting, or what I call “Hollywoodize” the story.

As I watch the movie / read the book, a small voice asks, “Did that really happen, or is it just to make this interesting?”

Because, let’s face it … our lives are not THAT interesting. There are gaps in time where nothing happens. There are conversations that are boring and go nowhere. There are couch potato days that no one wants to read about or watch. Our lives are waves of ups and downs that cannot be forced into Freytag’s Pyramid.

This summer I work-shopped my book in one of my classes and had to endure the class telling me what would make the story more interesting, and how to set up the conflict so there was steady rising action to a point of climax. It was torture, but they were right.

I’m having to shape the twisted roller-coaster of emotions and events that surrounded the diagnosis of my sisters into this pretty little pyramid to make you want to actually read it. At first, I pushed back. But now, I understand the necessity.

Here’s my promise to you: I Hollywoodized some conversations and events to force them to conform to Freytag, but I stayed true to what my sisters have, how I feel, and many conversations and events did happen. The essence of what I am trying to say is there.

I suppose you will still ask, “Did that actually happen” when you are reading it (and I hope you do), but I accept that. I just hope that when you are finished you will walk away from it with the essence of the story in your heart.

What are your thoughts?