*note-this post is geared towards authors who are new to writing! Read on for advice or for a laugh; it's up to you!
Well, maybe steal is the wrong word to use here. Let's use the word "adapt"! When you adapt a real-life story, you not only hone your writing skills, but you also introduce your readers to an actual piece of history that they might never have been aware of otherwise! And, if you look at it that way, it's really your duty as a writer to inform and delight your readers, don't you think? So if this sounds like it might be a task you'd be interested in, read on my skilled and adventurous friends!
Step One: Find a story that speaks to you.
Whether it's a story you grew up hearing about around the family campfire or just something that caught your eye whist perusing Wikipedia, make sure that the tale appeals to you. If it doesn't excite or intrigue you, it sure as heck won't appeal to your readers. For my example, I'll be using the tragic story of Kate Morgan and the Hotel Del Coronado.
Step Two: Decide where to start.
After researching Kate Morgan, I now have to decide where to start my story. Do I work linearly, starting with her birth and childhood and following with her marriage, death, and subsequent haunting? This is a great strategy if you feel that you could really get your readers to sympathize with your main character. Perhaps, instead, I could choose to begin with her tragic suicide (or possible murder) in order to draw the reader in right away. This is a great strategy to entice your reader in to read more, but it can be difficult to maintain suspense for the remainder of the story. Finally, my last example, I could choose to write from the perspective of someone who experienced a ghostly encounter with "the beautiful stranger". This slightly blurs the line between fiction and non-fiction however, so you may want to check the guidelines for the compilation you're submitting to first!
Regardless of where you start and stop, remember to maintain tension throughout the story!
Step Three: Write!
Finally, make sure your story has a strong ending. You can have the greatest story ever written but if the ending disappoints, your readers will walk away disappointed. They won't remember how well the story was written or how suspenseful it was, instead they'll just remember the let down. A logical or strong (though maybe drawn out) ending is always better than a convenient ending.
Step Three and a half: Make it interesting!
Author: Shannon, the intern.