Do you get ideas for stories from real life? A lot of my ideas over the years have emerged from real events, people, and places. After all, we're surrounded by anomalies and as writers we try to take notice and advantage of them. But once you have a nugget from the real world, how do turn it into something more fantastical?
I used to have a hard time translating real world events and feelings into a story. Usually, you don't want the real thing verbatim. You just want the essence of what happened, or the emotions that were present. Taking what you want out of context can be tricky. I had to work at it so that I wasn't writing a documentary. What can you do to get what you need from real life, but still write fiction?
Gain some distance. If you're drawing on real emotions, for instance, you may need some space from whatever happened to draw them out in the first place. If you're too close to a situation, it's tough to separate the feeling from the event. Given time, it's much easier to take the emotions and redirect them in a novel or short story.
Remember, it's still fiction. Even though you may be writing about an actual event or person, you're still writing a story. Know your facts but don't let them inhibit creativity. Take poetic license when the story calls for it. You're writing a novel, not a non-fiction book.
Extract what you need. People may possess qualities or quirks that you want to use, but that doesn't mean you have to recreate the whole person. You can extract what you like (or don't like I guess!) from people, events, and places, and combine them with other things you've pulled out of context for something entirely original.
How do you use real life in fiction?