How To Write Yourself Into A Piece Of Fiction Without Knowing It

Written by Hugh W. Roberts

My name is Hugh. I live in the city of Swansea, South Wales, in the United Kingdom. My blog covers a wide range of subjects, the most popular of which are my blogging tips posts. If you have any questions about blogging or anything else, please contact me by clicking on the 'Contact Hugh' button on the menu bar. Click on the 'Meet Hugh' button on the menu bar of my blog to learn more about me and my blog.

May 11, 2021

Do we unknowingly write ourselves into pieces of fiction where we hide out of view until somebody unexpectedly points out that we’re in the story?

When Charli Mills (Head Rancher) here at the Carrot Ranch prompted us to write a 99-word piece of flash fiction with the prompt ‘Swift Passage‘, I immediately saw a big ship. No, I wasn’t at the beach or by the sea, but some prompts can make me think I’m there.

The image stayed with me for two days until my fingers started the journey that would bring a comment that got me delving deeper into what I had written.

I did a little bit of research for this flash fiction piece, something I’m not always very good at doing. As my eyes scrolled a list of names, hoping that I would find my name by a strange coincidence, I felt disappointed when it was missing. Not even a person with the same surname as me was on it, but my eyes were drawn and focused on somebody with the first same name as me – Hugh.

I instantly felt connected with that person and felt sad that Mr Rood had not survived his journey.

By the time I published my response to the prompt, I didn’t think much more about it. I sat back and waited for any comments to come in.

You might have a connection,’ were the words in one comment that got my attention.

Screenshot of a comment left on a WordPress blog post

It got me wondering. Had I’d unknowingly written myself into this piece of flash fiction, I’d titled ‘A Night To Remember.’

After all, I’d always been interested in the location of the true story where my flash fiction piece was based, and this was not the first time I’d used it as a location.

Earlier in my blogging journey, one of the first short stories I’d written and published was partly centred around the same location as ‘A Night To Remember.’ I particularly liked that some of the comments for that early short story highlighted the twist. The twist, it seems, was the last part of the story’s location – a place most thought they knew but which had them making the wrong assumption.

In that early story, I’d included a framed photograph, which was the main item the story was centred around. I laughed out loud when somebody asked in a comment, ‘is the photo in the frame, you?‘ Why had they thought it was me in the picture?

I read the story back to myself before responding to that comment. Although I denied it was me in the photo, something at the back of my mind disagreed. Then somebody else mentioned that they’d thought I’d written myself into the story. It was not long before I started to ask myself if all writers do the same thing without really knowing about it.

When we write fiction, do we sometimes write about our previous lives?

However, back to my piece of flash fiction, ‘A Night To Remember.’ Although my real name was not on the list of the dead, a further comment mentioned I could have had a connection to the actual location of the story. I then remembered that I’m terrified of water. If it goes above my knees, I start to panic. Despite many swimming lessons, I’ve never been able to swim, and I won’t go into the sea or board anything that floats on it.

Had I been on board the ill-fated Titanic (the location of both stories I’ve mentioned in this post)? And in my current life as a writer, author and blogger, had I written fiction based on events that I’d witnessed?

Have you ever written yourself into a piece of fiction? Did you know you were doing it, or did somebody point out that you were in the story? Do you believe some of our stories are based on our previous lives?

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If you missed my first post on Diversity With A Twist, here it is.

Copyright © 2021 Hugh W. Roberts – All rights reserved.


Photo of the writer, author and blogger, Hugh W. Roberts

Hugh W. Roberts lives in Swansea, South Wales, in the United Kingdom.

Hugh gets his inspiration for writing from various avenues, including writing prompts, photos, eavesdropping, and walking his dogs. Although he was born in Wales, he has lived in various parts of the United Kingdom, including London, where he lived and worked for 27 years.

Hugh suffers from a mild form of dyslexia but, after discovering blogging, decided not to allow the condition to stop his passion for writing. Since creating his blog ‘Hugh’s Views & News’ in February 2014, he has built up a strong following and now writes every day. Always keen to promote other bloggers, authors and writers, Hugh enjoys the interaction blogging brings and has built up a group of online friends.

His short stories have become well known for the unexpected twists they contain. One of the best compliments a reader can give Hugh is, “I never saw that ending coming.”

Having published his first book of short stories, Glimpses, in December 2016, his second collection of short stories, More Glimpses, was released in March 2019.

A keen photographer, he also enjoys cycling, walking, reading, watching television, and enjoys relaxing with a glass of red wine and sweet popcorn.

Hugh shares his life with John, his civil partner, and Toby and Austin, their Cardigan Welsh Corgis.

You can follow Hugh’s blog at Hugh’s Views And News and follow him on Twitter at @hughRoberts05.

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  1. OIKOS™-Editorial

    A very interesting topic. Maybe someone is writing something remembering from former lives. At least in ever written piece is a lot of the writer. This makes the stories unique. Michael

    • Hugh W. Roberts

      Thanks, Michael. I’ve written about a former life before when I was a Roman soldier. Now I’m wondering if I was on board the ill-fated Titanic. Maybe that’s why I’m so interested in its story.

  2. Jules


    Not everyone believes in ‘former lives’. Though some do believe that there is an finite amount of souls, and that when ‘they’ choose to, get reborn. Not all remember anything from their previous existence. And then there are this the child who is a reincarnation of a famous Monk and when tested picks out the right objects in several tests to prove that the ‘soul’ is really the real ‘One’ reincarnated to the body of this new ‘student/leader’.

    I read a book by a famous actress who wrote about her past lives. One of them being a child who was rescued by elephants and always had a special relation ship with that animal (though not knowing about it) until some kind of hypnosis and regression to discover all of her past lives.
    I also like the movie that stared Barbara Streisand – I believe it was called;
    “On a Clear Day You Can See Forever’ (1970).

    I think everything we write has a kernel of ourselves. Sometimes we can’t see the connection and others can. What is really strange for me is when I write something and another person feels that I’ve desiccated their lives and put their situation public. Some are less than thrilled with that.

    Off to read your link. I know I read the first one ~ Jules

    • Hugh W. Roberts

      I’ve written about the subject of previous lives on my own blog, Jules. I have a very vivid short memory of being a Roman soldier and can still visualise myself walking around the walls that protected the city of York in the UK. It’s a memory that has been with me since I can remember.

      Until the comments on my post ‘A Night To Remember’ came in, I had no connection with the ill-fated Titanic, but those comments stirred something in me. When I connected them to the facts that I’m frightened of water and dislike getting on anything that floats on the water, it made me wonder if I’d been on board in a previous life. The story of the Titanic has always fascinated me. My mother was always horrified at how and why I was so interested in it.

      I’ve not heard of the movie you mentioned, but it sounds like one I’d definitely enjoy. I’ll look it up and hopefully find it on one of the streaming channels I subscribe to.

      Thanks so much for your comment. It’s a fascinating comment. I may write more on my own blog about previous lives.

      • Jules

        I’ve a relative – a young child who is also fascinated with the Titanic. And has a library of different books (for all age groups) on the subject. Even built (without directions) a plastic brick replica of the ship from one books pull out page illustration! Did you know that in Tennessee (in the US) there is a Titanic Museum?

        Titanic museum of Pigeon Forge, TN Just one of many around the world (and in the States too)

      • Hugh W. Roberts

        No, I didn’t know about the museum in Tennessee. There is one in Belfast, in Northern Ireland (where the Titanic was built) but I’ve yet to visit it. Once the pandemic is over, I hope to visit it.

      • Jules

        While looking up the one in TN… I saw that there were several museums in the States, a part named after such as well as the Belfast one. I didn’t realize the Titanic was built there!

        Hope you get to visit 😀

  3. Liz H

    As we said in our Saturday morning writing group:
    It’s all true.None of it’s true.
    And I add (to myself):
    That’s not the point. We just like to write! ????
    Does this classify as Speculative Fiction? Nicely done, Hugh!

    • Hugh W. Roberts

      You’re right, Liz. But something tells me to delve deeper into this subject. Those comments on my flash fiction and short story posts that featured the Titanic have triggered a switch that needs investigating.

      • Liz H

        For sure!

  4. JT Twissel

    An interesting topic. I don’t feel like I know myself well enough to write myself into a story!

    • Hugh W. Roberts

      You’ve probably done it without knowing it.

  5. robbiesinspiration

    Hi Hugh, I can’t say I’ve ever felt as if I have a connection to a piece of my writing through a previous life experience, but I do write a lot of my own characteristics into my stories. My characters are often like me and are in the same field of work, but they are different in fundamental ways. For example, Michelle in my latest book, is similar to me but much more docile and dependent on her husband than I am. It is a weakness I exploit in the book.

    • Hugh W. Roberts

      That’s interesting, Robbie. I think many of the characters we create have some element of us, especially when they speak. After all, we’re the ones who have created them. For me, the connection between characters and previous lives is something new. If I had not done any research for ‘A Night To Remember’, it may have still been hidden.

  6. Ritu

    This is such an interesting thought, Hugh!!!

    • Hugh W. Roberts

      Thanks, Ritu. I hope it makes you ponder it.

      • Ritu

        I’m definitely pondering, Hugh!

  7. Michael B. Fishman

    This is a very cool thought:
    “When we write fiction, do we sometimes write about our previous lives?”

    Or how about an alternate one that we’re not aware of except on some molecular level?

    • Hugh W. Roberts

      I never thought of it from a parallel universe side, but it’s an interesting thought. But I have thought whether we’re always human form or if we’ve been some other forms in previous lives.

  8. joanne the geek

    I personally don’t believe we have previous lives. The brain is extremely good at storing information we think we don’t know.

    • Hugh W. Roberts

      That’s interesting. For me, though, it’s more than just about the memories; it’s also about feelings and elements of our current lives.

      • Michael B. Fishman

        Same here. Or why we’re drawn to certain things and people in our life.

  9. Ann Edall-Robson

    Hugh, you sent shivers down my back. I believe we are all connected in some way to our writing. It might not be a blatant, slap in the face, storyline; but a morsel of existence is in there, somewhere, or we would not have been compelled to put pen to paper and write.

    It is my opinion that the knowledge we have, the visions we manifest, come from a deep connection to a something within our past existence. Not everyone believes this can or should happen, but being open to the possibility is a gift we could all embrace. A topic for debate, I am sure, will be conversation worthy for years to come.

    Thank you for your thought provoking words.

    • Hugh W. Roberts

      Thank you, Ann. I think this is a topic that will be debated well into the future. Until I wrote ‘A Night To Remember’, it had not occurred to me as much as it did then that what I had written was connected to a previous life I may have lived. Since writing this post, I’m a little closer to believing that I was on board the Titanic and that I was one of the victims that night. What I can’t get my head around, though, is why I don’t recall any other part of that previous life. Maybe it’s only tiny parts that have the ability to spill over into the current world we live in?

      Going forward, I’ll be taking much more notice of my fiction and looking for clues that open up a passage to the past.

      Thanks so much for joining the discussion.

  10. Writinginthedeep

    This is a very interesting idea. The thought that some how we are in tune with our past lives which is why we are able to write such realistic stories is fascinating. I tend to write stories with murder in it. Makes me wonder if my past life was ended in murder or if I did the murdering. True crimes have always fascinated me, so who knows. I have the most fascinating conversation with two of my children the other day about life and death. My 11 year old son brought up the idea that a person with multiple personalities actually have multiple souls trapped inside of them. Then my 8 year old daughter added that maybe those souls are from miscarriages. They both truly surprised me with how deeply they think. So, maybe there is something to all of this.

    • Hugh W. Roberts

      Your children sound like they could well become excellent writers. I particularly like what your son said, even if it did send a shiver down my spine.

      Until I wrote ‘A Night To Remember’ and got the comment that got me thinking, I’d only really thought more about previous lives because of a vivid reoccurring memory I have of being a Roman soldier. However, ‘A Night To Remember’ also took me back to that first short story I wrote centred around the Titanic. Since writing this post and reading the comments, I’m much more nearer to believing that previous lives affect some of what we write in today’s world.

      Thanks so much for joining the discussion.

      • Writinginthedeep

        That is interesting about the Roman soldier memory. Your feelings have always been a connection with a past male. It makes me wonder if we always were the same gender. Then my crazy way of thinking wonders, if there are past lives, do they effect our current lives so much because of our past gender, as in our sexual orientation or our gender identity. That one is a pretty deep thought though. Life sure is mysterious.

      • Hugh W. Roberts

        They are excellent thoughts for debate. I have no memories of ever being female in a previous life, but maybe a future piece of flash fiction I write will trigger something?

      • Writinginthedeep

        It would be interesting if that did happen.

  11. ellenbest24

    Hi Hugh, I see myself in many of my tales but never until after so not purposely placed, just pieces of me. Xx Great Post as usual Hugh.

    • Hugh W. Roberts

      Thank you, Ellen. I think there are pieces of ourselves in most of our writing. They may be tiny pieces that are difficult to see, but they’re there.

  12. Sherri Matthews

    Hi Hugh, great to catch up with you once again at Carrot Ranch, my first forray into blogging for some time. Interesting and thought-provoking post, especially as I have long been as fascinated as you by The Titanic. Perhaps you need to go deeper with your research? You never know…and all those stories waiting for you to write with even just a tiny bit of yourself hidden there…in plain sight 😉 🙂

    • Hugh W. Roberts

      Hi Sherri, yes, it can be frightening to think about those stories and pieces of flash fiction yet to be written. However, I’m not going to let it put me off from writing. Not even wild horses would do that.
      One day, I want to visit the Titanic museum in Belfast. Maybe I’ll find something there? Who knows?

      • Sherri Matthews

        Frightening and enthralling! That would be fantastic to go there, Hugh! Take me with you! 🙂

  13. Charli Mills

    Fascinating thoughts to return to the Ranch and encounter, Hugh! This makes me wish we were all sitting around a campfire sharing stories and past lives. I got an eerie sense that I somehow “knew” you were on the Titanic. I don’t speak of this much, but I consider myself a storycatcher. I’ve had a knack for sensing stories in places, or finding stories in cemeteries. I don’t think they are all past lives or DNA memories, but I know that I “feel” stories and often feel compelled to write them (which is another reason I find the 99-word format handy).

    When my son was in kindergarten, he asked me why he had to die in the Civil War. I told him, I didn’t know and asked him why he was thinking about that idea. He then said he recognized Katie, a girl in his class. He explained she had been his wife and they had two dogs. It made him feel sad. I just gave him space to share his story. Ha. I guess I do that a lot! Make space for all the stories people want to share. And why wouldn’t we want to share stories that bubble up in our minds and bodies? Who’s to say what our DNA carries in the way of memories. What are memories? I find this all interesting to explore.

    Since the pandemic, I’ve been going to sound therapy sessions. It’s a way to heal the “static” in one’s bio-field. We have energy that surrounds us, an energy that can be detected and even healed. Sometimes that energy contains childhood, generational or past life traumas. There may even be an energetic reaction you have to your fear or the water. That’s the “static” that sound therapy can smooth. Recently, I was lying on my back during a session, feeling a familiar pain in my left lumbar area. I began to focus on the pain and I felt it as a battle wound, feeling other wounds throughout my body. I realized I was lying in a grave with my own sword and shield. I was a woman and concerned about the future of my people and children. Then I felt myself refuse to acknowledge I was dead. I burst out a laugh at that moment and told my therapist that I thought I just had a past life flash, but that somewhere in Great Britain, I was “not dead.”

    Thank you for bringing up this topic and sharing how it can infuse our fiction. My favorite mentor has always maintained that fiction is our exploration of the truth.

    • Hugh W. Roberts

      Charli, I wish we could all sit around a campfire and talk and explore the subject of past lives.

      For your son to have spoken about a past life while still in Kindergarten must have been an interesting experience. I often wonder if some of the stories young children make up and tell us are glimpses of their past lives.

      And your experience of lying in your own grave with a sword and shield is spine-tingling. It makes me wonder why these flashbacks don’t happen more. Is it something unique in all of us that trigger them? I guess some people will have many flashbacks, while some will have none at all.

      After writing this post, I’ve thought a lot more about the Titanic and came to realise that it’s something that goes back a lot further in my current life than I thought. Memories have surfaced that I thought were lost forever – mainly centred around water. Some are nice, some not so nice.

      Now it’s time for me to see if any further memories I have of past lives come back to me as I write. Recently, only two had made their appearance, but I had another a few days ago when looking at a photo somebody had posted on Twitter. I was immediately drawn to the photo and one of the figures in it. It’s something I must explore more and write about.

  14. Laura M Bailey

    Such an interesting topic. Past lives? I don’t know this….
    Let me preface with, yes, I was only 2 yes old and most believe that we don’t retain memories until after the age of 5 and this appears to be true for many people however this is not the case with me.
    While I do not have long flowing memories like a stream, I do have vivid memories of specific times and incidences. I remember my parents tossing me back and forth to each other across a bed, laughing at my laughing. I remember my mother holding me on her hip while standing on a ramp outside a door at what seemed to be an airport. My father was wearing a parka and mom had my hand, waving it and saying “say bye bye to daddy”. We were at the airforce base my dad was stationed at in Michigan. I could not talk yet. I was both walking, running and speaking in sentences at 6 months. My parents divorced before I was 2 and mom took me home to Texas.
    At 15, I described a place I lived as a baby with them both in great detail to my father.. My father was astonished! He immediately knew the place. It was the attic apt the rented and where I was born. That Dec. He took me to Michigan and to that house. The Great thing was that the people that rented it to them still lived there and remembered them!
    That said and much longer than I intended….
    At age 2, I had not been feeling well. My mom & grandmother (with whom we were living) put me down for a nap that I would never wake up from. When checked on, they discovered me unconscious and burning up with fever. Turned out that I had Rubella (back then called German measles), double pneumonia, running 108° temperature and in a coma.
    Here’s where it gets weird (for you but I was at complete peace) My vantage point was from the top of the room, midway between the bed and the door of a white room, window to my left, door to the right, facing into the room. I could see the bed across from me and the chair pulled next to the fat side of it nearest the window AND myself laying in the bed that seemed to be tented with plastic. (I would later discover this was an oxygen tent)
    My mother came through the door. She looked distraught. She walked over to the bed, sitting in the chair and slipped her hand beneath the tent to hold my little hand. When she got up to leave, I seemed to follow her, just above her head. She opened and walked out of the room, pulling the door closed behind her, put her hand up to her face and began to cry.

    I also, as an adult, had a nieghbor who 8 yr old daughter was not only completely pubescent, but had spoke of being someone else since she 1st began to speak and seemed to speak what sounded like German in her sleep!

    • Hugh W. Roberts

      What interesting stories, Laura. They’re all fascinating and really make you think if there is life on either side of where we currently are. As I mentioned to Charli in a previous comment, I wonder if some of the stories you often hear young children tell contain snippets of their previous lives. I do have memories of being a young child, but nothing like those you have shared with us. My memories seem to be more about previous lives, but only since I started writing. However, I recently had a flashback to a previous life after being drawn to a photo somebody posted on Twitter. It was a figure in the photo, which was particularly drawing me in.

      Thanks so much for sharing your memories with us. They make a fascinating post I believe many would be interested in reading. I think there are other worlds out there we once belonged to. Occasionally, they open up and give us a glimpse into them.

  15. Terri Webster Schrandt

    How interesting to read your perspective on past lives, Hugh. I’m not sure I believe in past lives but in God’s infinite creation, anything is possible. I feel that memories are rooted in our DNA and more sensitive individuals may recall these memories. Your dyslexia may make you more sensitive to this. There is research to suggest that our DNA going back to those with Neanderthal markers (I have a boatload according to Ancestry and 23 and Me), helps us recall memories. How did Ancient man, with no language other than gestures and nonverbal communication, pass on their culture to each generation? It’s all so fascinating. Jacqui Murray writes this into her books on the subject.
    With your Welsh heritage that dates back to Celts and Druids, you may have that extra psychic ability that provide flashes of ancient memories. My DNA shows a high percentage of Irish/Scotch/Welsh blood tinged with Viking ancestry. I get an astounding amount of psychic flashes mostly of what is coming, precognition. But my 21st century-wired brain ignores it while my Celtic soul compels me to action. Honestly who really knows? Maybe our addled brains are rewiring our synapses and its all wishful thinking?
    Anyway, as an accomplished fiction writer, you should continue to explore these notions and wow us with more of your work!

    • Hugh W. Roberts

      Thanks so much for joining the discussion, Terri.

      I love what you say about the psychic flashes you have experienced. From what I remember, I haven’t had any of those, but who knows? Maybe I’ve just forgotten about them (like we do with most of the dreams we have). I’d love to know more about your premonitions

      I wonder if ancient man passed on their culture by way of pictures or drawings? Given cave paintings that are millions of years old have been found, it reminds me a little of what I do when I want to find out how to do something – I usually go to YouTube (the modern-day version of cave paintings – maybe?)

      You could be right in it being something to do with our heritage that gives us the ability to have flashes of memories from before we were last born. But I wonder why it’s not all of us with the same heritage that it happens to? Maybe some of us just keep forgetting those flashes? A bit like dreams which I mentioned earlier.

      As I think I’ve mentioned to you before, I’m terrified of being in or on water. When I got the comment I mentioned in this post, it was like a piece of the jigsaw falling into place and the connection to the Titanic reemerged. The more I’ve thought about it, the more I’m confident that I was on board. But I need more evidence before I finally convince myself. I wonder if I’ll find any? I’ll certainly not stop looking.

      • Terri Webster Schrandt

        Excellent point about cave paintings, Hugh! Love that correlation to YouTube. I believe that if we were more tuned in to our feelings (I could do better…according to Myers Briggs temperament test), I believe in the world through my senses. Now to just pay attention to that 6th sense! Maybe my soul belonged to a mermaid once upon a time, since I’m very at home in the water. It’s all so fascinating and one day we will wake up on the other side and say “aha”! as we slap our spirtitual foreheads!

      • tellmethetoothrdh

        This is very interesting.
        Did you know that trauma that one of our ancestors experienced can be part of our genetic makeup? If you had a relative on the Titanic or other traumatic experience with water, that can very well be part of your genes and you too will have that fear!
        My daughter learned that in one of her university classes and shared it with me.
        Found it fascinating!

      • Charli Mills

        That is interesting!

      • Hugh W. Roberts

        I never thought about the genetic makeup. It’s a very interesting point. Thank you.

    • Hugh W. Roberts

      If the Twilight Zone claims there is a fifth dimension, then there must be a sixth sense, Terri. The people in the Twilight Zone stories often stumbled into the fifth dimension by mistake and least when they expect it. So, I would go looking for it. Let it come to you.
      I’d love to wake up one day and know for certain that I’ve lived a previous life. The problem seems to be that as soon as I start that next journey, I’ve forgotten about the others.

  16. Colleen M. Chesebro

    Hugh, this was a brilliant subject. I’ve often thought that our past lives influence our writing. It’s always interesting to realize that you are drawn to different cultures or things with no logical explanation why! And… how often have you heard the saying that we connect (or reconnect) with people from our past lives in our present life? Right now, I’m convinced that my dear Sugar and Spice (Pomeranian sisters) have come back as cats so they could find their way back to us! I know… Ron thinks I’m nuts too! But Chloe and Sophie have so many of the same traits as the dogs did. Which is pretty humorous! I’m thrilled to see this new feature. I’ll stop by to stay in touch. <3

  17. walt walker

    Okay, Hugh, you gave me the shivers thinking that the reason you are afraid of water is that you were on that ship. And that maybe that’s why you are so interested in its story. I think it’s quite likely you might be on to something there.

    • Hugh W. Roberts

      I like that. I believe I was on that ship too, Walt. The connection to me being terrified of water seems to play a big part in my current life, but I’m now wondering what happened to me after the Titanic. Did I come here via time travel, or did I start a new life in 1912? If the latter, what was that life and why haven’t I had any flashbacks to it yet? Maybe one day?

  18. Hugh W. Roberts

    I’ve never thought about animals coming back after death, Colleen. It makes me wonder if we sometimes come back as animals? Imagine being a butterfly, which only has a lifespan of one day.

    The three flashbacks I have had, I’ve always been a human. And in each one, I was a man. But I guess it doesn’t mean we always come back as the same sex. As I mentioned to Terri in an earlier comment, some of our previous lives may have simply been forgotten about (a little like most of our dreams).
    As for Sugar and Spice having come back, I’d go with what you believe in. I know many people (including me) get comfort from what they believe. And that’s not a bad thing.


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