Writing a Novel Based on True Events

May 16, 2016 by Michael Copple

Getting Started

My German born Canadian wife Elfriede and I moved from Montana and have lived near Golden, British Columbia for 13 years. We are both humbled and excited when Calling from the Sky was accepted for publishing. The end product is a novel based upon true life events. I started writing it 13 years ago when Elfriede and I were in the second year of our marriage. We’d made a trip to the Canadian Rockies and were staying in the Goldenwood Lodge. Between meals, the Swiss proprietors allowed me to perch alone in their well-situated dining room with breathtaking views of the mountains and valley below. It was the awe inspiring, perfect environment to set out on this writing endeavor.

The first draft was a disaster. I had written my “true” life story and cast all my shortcomings onto others. After a close friend had struggled through the manuscript he handed it back to me and sarcastically said, “Okay Mike, you’ve vindicated yourself!” That certainly motivated me to rewrite it and to tell the truth.

Keeping the Reader’s Interest

Upon completing the second draft of a more truthful autobiography, the question came to mind, “Is my life’s story really interesting and exciting enough to inspire anyone to read it?”

The 2,000 parachute jumps and 15 hours of freefall time were invigorating enough to keep myself amused and enthused. And the incidents and malfunctions would always be something that could never be erased from memory. However, there still needed to be a “hook” to grab the readers and stimulate them to read to the end. Hence the weaving of fiction into the facts.

During my first four years of a 26-year career in the U.S. Air Force, when I worked with an intercontinental ballistic missile system, I actually did experience a visit by possible Soviet espionage agents. Although nothing came of it, this was where the fictitious mixing began. After considering so many genuinely true brushes with death I finally realized that God must have a purpose for me, and I believe that writing Calling from the Sky was part of His purpose. I also don’t believe He is finished with me yet.

Leveling the Playing Field

My father and several uncles not only inspired me to volunteer for a hazardous front lines position parachuting in Vietnam, but also stirred me to write about how I believe most of us veterans really do feel. Seeing the deterioration of respect for the soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen as the years kept passing by, the patriotism instilled into me by my family also drove me to confirm the truth in writing. We would not have the freedom to express ourselves in a book like this if not for the sacrifices made by families, lives that have been given, blood that has been shed, and limbs that have been lost. It is my hope that many people, both young and old, will read the truth contained in this book (instead of what modern day revisions of history are teaching) so as to come to a deep sense of appreciation for the freedom that has been provided for us.

Seizing an Opportunity

It’s sometimes difficult for us to admit our own guilt, but others seem to be on the edge of their seats with curiosity to hear our confessions. Believers want others to have this same start over with life, peace in our hearts, overwhelming joy and confidence.

1 Timothy 2:4 tells us that God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

We share this desire with Him, and by Him using me to write this book I pray that at least one reader will hear God’s calling. Since the reader might actually read to the end, there stood an open door to not only confess the truth about the wretched person whom I’d actually become, but also the occasion to tell how and why I became a Christian.

It required more guts to admit my guilt than it did to make my first exit from an airborne aircraft. I had committed more than enough transgressions against God’s Commandments to deserve the death penalty—and it only takes one offense. I truly did believe that I could never be forgiven. However, if you who are reading this are also a Christian, then you already know the rest of the best—our hope and God’s promise for eternal life! And He has never lied nor broken a promise! (1 Samuel 15:29)

The loss of a very close friend and his parents’ unconditional love and forgiveness helped lead me to understanding the meaning of John 3:16 and the power of God’s unconditional love and forgiveness. I was compelled to tell of this intense life changing event in Calling from the Sky. I have been set free indeed from practicing a sinful lifestyle, and the Lord Jesus Christ did it all for me. The death I deserved, He took for me on the cross. The forgiveness I’ve received was by His shed blood. The hope we have for eternal life is proven by more than five hundred eyewitnesses of His resurrection back to life from death (1 Corinthians 15:3-8) and by them seeing Him for the forty days afterwards and then seeing Him physically ascend into a cloud. (Acts 1:3, 9)

Listening to Advice

My wife Elfriede, with whom I am blessed to be equally yoked, had some fantastic ideas (and an amazing measure of patience) for how to begin the novel by repeating fiction lines that are near the end. I lost count of how many times she proofread the manuscript —making corrections every time. Additional greatly appreciated advice came from God’s Word, close acquaintances, good Christian friends, the Word Alive Press project manager and the editor. Thankfully, I listened. I pray to our Father God that the efforts by all involved will glorify our God and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

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About this Contributor

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Michael Copple’s life experience includes twenty-six years active duty in the US Air Force, nine years of which were overseas, including one year in Vietnam, and nine years with the Wings of Blue parachute team at the U.S. Air Force Academy. From 1983 to 1986, he was the Superintendent of Parachuting Operations at USAF Academy. He accumulated 2,000 parachute jumps and fifteen hours of freefall, and he earned jump wings from six foreign countries. Michael obtained the highest enlisted rank of Chief Master Sergeant. For the past twelve years Michael Copple, a permanent resident of Canada, has resided near Golden, B.C., with his wife, Elfriede. They both believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is indeed the Son of God, enjoy reading and studying God’s Word, and enjoy cross-country skiing, and running every morning with their dog, Kansas. His first book, Calling from the Sky, will be released in June.