One of the things that most intrigued me during last August's Philadelphia Christian Writer's Conference (http://www.writehisanswer.com/philadelphia) was author Patricia Hickman's explanation of "emotional blueprint".
She was describing one of her books, a story which was derived from the experience of several family members.
The problem she faced - one that I've faced several times in this fledgling career - was how to convey the real and powerful elements of a very personal story without damaging her family relationships.
Patricia Hickman's solution was what she calls "emotional blueprint".
Instead of writing your sister's story or your mother's story ... or your story ... and finding a posse of angry, or embarassed, relatives banging on your front door (or banging on the front of your head), go back and explore how that circumstance or situation made you feel. Try to experience how it made the others feel who were personally involved.
Hickman ("Words to Go" at http://www.wordsunwired.blogspot.com.)
then instructs writers to take that experience, and the emotions and memories from that experience (an emotional blueprint) and overlay on top of it a fictional story.
New names, new place ... new people, dealing with the same circumstances and the same emotions. But it gets us off the hook. We can now fully mine the depths of our personal experience and still protect all those we care most about.
I found it to be a great tool that I'm already putting to use.
Many thanks to Rachelle for helping me to enter the new millennium.