Stories based on vs. Inspired by will forever grace our big screens. Why? Things happen in the world every day. While some are tragic, others aren’t. But we all wish we never experience tragedy in life.
Most of the books we read and movies we watch are “based on” true stories. In other words, they are stories pulled from actual life events.
As a writer, you cannot write about true stories without the owner’s permission. Even when you have permission, the authenticity of the book or movie produced compared to the true story will be based on the freedom the owner affords you.
There is a clear difference between stories based on actual events and those inspired by real events. Keep reading to understand the difference. We’ll also discuss books and movies based on and inspired by true events. Read on!
Based on Vs. Inspired By: What Is The Difference?
Stories from movies or books can be based on or inspired by. What does it mean for a film or book to be based on? And what does it mean for a movie or book to be inspired by?
When a story is based on an event, its plot is based on an actual event. In other words, the event happened in real life.
The fact that a movie or book is based on an actual event doesn’t mean it copies the event verbatim. Depending on the freedom given to the writer, some factual details of the story can be creatively changed, subtracted, added, and so on.
However, the expectation people have when you’re writing a script for a movie or book based on a true story is this: the characters, storylines, and scenes in the movie or novel must be actual events.
You may have some creative liberty when writing a story based on an actual event. But the majority of the depictions in your script should be factual. They should comprise events that took place in the true story.
When a movie or book is inspired by, it means the storyline, characters, and everything about the story is fictional but loosely inspired by an actual event.
Movies or books inspired by true stories offer writers much freedom. You can mold the story into whatever you think would provide viewers with the best cinematic experience.
Having more leeway means writers can take the story wherever they want. They can even focus on a specific character or element of the story and dictate how it progresses or ends.
In “inspired by stories,” the writer decides what the character says or does.
A Handy Tip, Hollywood producers adore based on stories for a simple reason. Such stories captivate the audience and stimulate their curious minds.
The fact that the event took place and someone in the story reacted in a specific manner intrigues people. Hollywood knows this. They see the Box Office results and the numbers from streaming sites.
Hollywood also loves Intellectual Properties. And they do because of a simple reason: marketing.
Intellectual Properties already boasts a loyal fan base. Thus, Hollywood doesn’t have to go through the rigors of marketing the movie after spending a fortune on its production.
Why Stories Based On True Events Are More Captivating
There are numerous films and books based on actual events. And they cut across all genres. Nothing can compare to reading a book or watching a movie based on true events. Here are some of the reasons people adore such stories.
1: Experiences learned from actual stories are transformational:
Have you ever had challenges and got the courage to pick yourself up after encountering someone who has had similar challenges? Knowing that someone like you overcame such a challenge obviously changed your mentality.
The story or challenge you’re passing through might be different from the one in the book or film. However, reading about or watching how the protagonist managed the situation can change your mentality. It could also be what you need to scale through a challenge in your life.
2: Actual events teaches valuable life lessons:
Experience, they say, is the best teacher. It is better to learn from other people’s experiences.
Reading about or watching films about people’s past experiences can help prepare you to face life. It will prepare you emotionally, psychologically, and otherwise.
When you encounter similar challenges as the characters in the book or movie, you’ll be more prepared to get yourself out of the situation. You won’t make silly mistakes that people in the story made because you have learned from their experiences.
The fact that the story happened in real life will make it more valuable and appealing. It is not fiction, but a true life story that took place. Nothing compares to reading or watching movies based on true life stories. You’ll get emotionally attached to the story and pay close attention to every detail.
3: Most based on stories are relatable:
Have you ever been in a situation where you had to agree with a character in a movie or book because you have experienced something similar? It happens often in “based on” true stories.
You may stumble on a story similar to what you have experienced. Someone you know may have experienced the same. So, most of the stories based on true events are relatable. And such stories are far more likely to captivate the audience and get the message across.
Examples of Must-Read Novels Based On Real Life Stories
I love real-life stories, but not that I dislike stories inspired by real events. Based on real stories, books and films are more captivating.
So, here are books written based on true events.
1: Winter Work by Dan Fesperman:
This influential novel blends drama, murder, and espionage to captivate readers. It is a novel “based on” a true life story, one the world will never forget.
The fall of the Berlin Wall marked a new beginning across the globe. It marked the start of the Cold War, a move that changed the world geo politically and socially.
The events captured in this novel truly happened. They were events that had a massive impact on the lives of millions of people and shifted the borders of nations.
There was also the dismantling of a state-sponsored spy called the Stasi and how sensitive secrets were up for grabs. It covers what happened in East Germany and other parts of the world.
2: Take My Hand By Dolen Perkins-Valdez:
When race and women’s reproductive health are intertwined, the conflict created is never a breeze to manage. It grows until it becomes more heated.
Take My Hand is a story written by Dolen Perkins-Valdez. It is based on a true life story involving involuntary sterilization that opens up secrets that changed the world forever.
The new birth control methods are among the most significant discoveries in medicine. They are instrumental in family planning.
But even though these birth control methods brought reproductive freedom, they made heavily marginalized women in the country an easy target for individuals who feel they have to do something about America’s racial makeup. Unfortunately, women of color were their major targets.
3: By Her Own Design Written By Piper Huguley
Here is one of the most touching stories based on an actual event. It will take you back to history when John F. Kenny married Jacqueline Bouvier. Jacqueline was an American socialite, writer, photographer, and book editor.
Piper Huguley’s story covers the famous dress the First Lady of the United States of America wore. It covers the story of Ann Lowe, the black American who made the dress.
Anne Lowe was from Jim Crow, Alabama. She’s a seamstress, something she learned from her mother and enslaved grandmother, who was also a seamstress.
Today, Ann Lowe is getting the recognition she deserves for her work, thanks to Piper Huguley.
4: The Perfect Nanny By Leila Slimani:
The Perfect Nanny story will leave you at the edge of your seat. It is based on the accurate tale of Yoselyn Ortega, a nanny who did the unthinkable. The New York City nanny was entrusted with the care of two children but decided to murder them.
The event took place in 2012, but it still intrigues many today. Leila Slimani’s book also makes the story fresh in our minds. Her exceptional writing skills and storytelling ability made the novel an award-winning bestseller.
In this story, Leila focuses on the relationship between Yoselyn Ortega, the “perfect nanny,” and the grieving mother who regrets entrusting her two children to the wrong person.
5: Beautiful Exile, written by Meg Waite Clayton
In this novel, a war correspondent, Martha Gellhorn, meets Ernest Hemingway in 1936. Hemingway was married to Journalist Pauline Pfeiffer at the time. Unfortunately, he started flirting with Martha, and the friendship quickly became romantic.
Meg Clayton has a reputation for conducting in-depth research and spinning them into something more romantic. You will adore every bit of this novel, as it’s based on a true-life story.
5 Scary Movies That Are Based On True Life Story
Do you enjoy watching horror movies based on real-life stories? Here are movies you should check out.
1: The Conjuring (2013):
The Conjure is a 2013 film based on a true-life story. It is one of the scariest movies out there. Paranormal investigators, Ed and Lorraine Warren shared the story of a family who moved into a farmhouse and started experiencing horrific events.
If you fancy horror movies, you’ll likely enjoy watching The Conjure. Due to the film’s success, the producers decided to make a sequel in 2016.
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It was produced in 2021, and it’s another great movie to watch.
2: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003):
In this horror movie, a group of friends encounter a chainsaw-wielding maniac with a weird family. The friends were attached and had to fight for their lives.
3: The Stanford Prison Experiment:
Watch this movie to refresh your memory of Professor Philip Zimbardo’s infamous 1971 experiment.
In the experiment, 24 college students played the role of prisoners and guards. Unfortunately, the relationship between the prisoners and guards quickly broke down, and things got out of hand.
4: The Black Dahlia (2006):
The story of Elizabeth Short continues to be a mystery. It is one of the most unsolved murder cases in America’s history.
Elizabeth Short was an aspiring actress whose life was cut short in 1947. Her body was found mutilated in a Los Angeles car park.
5: The Mothman Prophecy (2002):
This horror movie will scare the living daylight out of anyone. The film boasts the same name as the book, and the stories are identical.
The Mothman Prophecy is a 2002 movie based on a true-life event in a specific location. In 1966, residents claimed waking up to a giant moth flying around for months in Point Pleasant, Virginia.
The moth was huge and had red glowing eyes. It was a scary experience for the residents, as you’ll be able to phantom from the movie itself.
The “based on Vs inspired by” comparison is now clear. As you can see, both have different meanings. While “based on” is often used to describe films or books produced according to the story, “inspired by” is the opposite.
For example, the movie is based on a true life story, which means the writer adhered to the details of the true story. The writer can add, subtract, or make a few changes to the story based on the creative freedom the original owner gives. However, the changes made must be in line with the actual story.
When a story is “inspired by,” the writer takes inspiration from another story or event. However, the new tale produced can differ slightly from the actual one.