How Fiction Writing Influences Real-Life Relationships

fiction that affects real life relationships

In nonfiction—especially creative nonfiction works and memoir—it’s common for writers to tackle material that’s personal and speaks to real-life emotional struggles. And, quite naturally, writing about real lives and real people brings consequences that have to be carefully considered, if not from a legal perspective, then at least from a long-term relationship perspective. (This writer has been open about the challenges and fallout.)

Fiction writing, while not always associated with affecting one’s real-life relationships, can indeed have that power, too—and in a positive way. Novelists often revisit certain types of relationships or characters in their work again and again, as a form of therapy, to work through personal challenges.

In his recent essay for Glimmer Train, Matthew Lansburgh (@senorlansburgh) discusses this phenomenon—and the power of empathy:

What I find interesting is that, over time, as I began to deepen the character on the page, to find more nuance and humanity in my fictional mother, my perception of my actual mother began to shift too. The shift wasn’t seismic. I didn’t suddenly start sitting on her lap while she knitted me mittens and caps, but I did notice moments in our interactions in which the writer part of my consciousness helped me to filter challenging moments in real life.

Read the full essay.

Also this month in the Glimmer Train bulletin:

Share this
Posted in Writing Advice.

Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in digital media strategy for authors and publishers. She is the publisher of The Hot Sheet, the essential newsletter on the publishing industry for authors, and was named Publishing Commentator of the Year by Digital Book World in 2019.

In addition to being a columnist for Publishers Weekly, Jane is a professor with The Great Courses, which released her 24-lecture series, How to Publish Your Book. Her book for creative writers, The Business of Being a Writer (University of Chicago Press), received a starred review from Library Journal.

Jane speaks regularly at conferences and industry events such as BookExpo America, Digital Book World, and the AWP Conference, and has served on panels with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund. Find out more.

Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

1 Comment
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments