This is topic "Based on a True Story" - Only Not in forum Open Discussions About Writing at Hatrack River Writers Workshop.

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Posted by Rhaythe (Member # 7857) on :
For my second summer nano book, I'm writing a horror that is loosely based on James Cameron's descent down to the bottom of Challenger Deep (in the Mariana Trench). When I say "loosely", I mean that my protag is basically a fictional version of JC. I'm even using amalgamized material taken from his direct quotes of the expedition.

Of course, where my story differs from real life is that my protag discovers a giant stone door seven miles under the ocean's surface - something that, at least according to JC's official report - does not exist.

Anyway - as a writer, how close do you wander to the truth when you're writing? The entire premise of my story is based upon an actual real-life event (Deepsea Challenger, for those interested. Read up. It's fascinating material) using real-life scenarios and even the doings of real people. Obviously I'm changing names and personalities. But am I asking for trouble by using such a documented and lime-lighted scenario?

(Especially when JC's movie about the trench comes out in the near-future?)
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
Some bozo just published a book about the Titanic's "rescue ship," the Carpathia---taking the location of Carpathia, and some well-worn myths and legends thereof, and inventing things that happened to real people in the course of it all. (I didn't buy the book---it's another of those things where I was revolted by the idea of it.)

As for JC's trenchwork...well, I know for a fact that my DVD recorder wouldn't let me record his last special on the Titanic on the National Geographic Channel---there's some kind of setting that makes things turn off when some kind of signal is sent. (Since nearly all the channels are digital now, it makes the DVD recorder just about useless to me.)

I think Cameron is a little more sensitive about copyright infringement than some others might be---you might want to de-Cameron-ize your character and the events, create your own characters and settings, maybe put it in a different part of the ocean altogether.
Posted by extrinsic (Member # 8019) on :
The Marianas Trench is a setting situation ripe for dramatic exploration. Beyond that, I don't think any of the other motifs, the persons, the events, the ideas, the plot even, of deep sea explorations rise to a sufficient level of creativity to be original enough for a narrative where a doorway near the trench bottom is discovered. Awe and wonder potential in the latter. But what's the main dramatic complication? In other words, what's the central problem wanting satisfaction?

Deep exploration of the Marianas Trench was partly from scientific curiosity, partly from competitive patriotic drives, partly from personal competitive drives. The problem wanting satisfaction, so to speak, was all over the place. Thus the final outcome was anticlimatic.
Posted by Rhaythe (Member # 7857) on :
Anticlimatic for the casual observer (silt and shrimp). For my protag, the expedition fills a void in his life left by his recently-departed son (cliche alert!!). The rest of the story then deals with what comes out of that door.

No, Lovecraft would not be pleased with my answer to that question. Though the thought did cross my mind.

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