A disclaimer, frequently found at the beginning of many works of fiction, always puzzled me.
“Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental”
That’s the fallacy propagated, I presume, by the lawyers and editors.
The best description of what goes through a drunk man’s mind is written by an alcoholic. Józef ‘Conrad’ Korzeniowski before starting his illustrious career had spent years in the British merchant marine. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn barely survived being sent to Soviet Gulag. During the First World War, Ernest Hemingway volunteered to serve in Italy as an ambulance driver with the American Red Cross. For his bravery, he received the Silver Medal of Valor from the Italian government—one of the first Americans so honored. Your best writing is about what you know.
My writing is about the life of a cardiac surgeon, Dr. Jack Murano. All the details of cardiac procedures are real. Most of the events which I describe did happen in the real life. Some personal details are true. But not all––many I made up. On my wife’s request, I am very selective. If readers ask me “How much of your story is true?” I say fifty-percent. The reader just has to figure out which fifty percent. And which trait of person’s character was taken from whom.
And I would argue that my description of the drama in the operating room, during the difficult cardiac procedure, amplified within the close space, filled with many, often head-strong personalities, at the end of which patient dies––is better than the description written by an author who’d watched ‘ER’ or ‘Scrubs’.