“Borrow” from Real Life and Hide it Well
Continuing with the notion that great ideas, great plots, and characters are inspired by true events; the event itself doesn’t need to have anything to do with you or your personal experience (in my opinion, it’s better if it does, but it doesn’t have to). You could easily decide to base your movie, your plot, and your characters on other real-life events, people, or circumstances that you’re drawn to; the key is to hide it well.
There are many characters in the world of fiction that are based on the likes of real-world people (Adolf Hitler, Vlad the Impaler, Al Capone, Winston Churchill, etc.). Stan Lee wrote Roman as a fictionalized superhero version of Howard Hughes; Batman creators Bob Kane and Bill Finger based The Joker on Conrad Veidt’s character, Gwynplaine, from Paul Leni’s 1928 film, The Man Who Laughs. Alfred Hitchcock said that Norman Bates, the Psycho villain, was directly inspired by body snatcher Edward Gein; Don Draper from the TV show Madmen was based on real-life ad man Draper Daniels; the beloved 1930s cartoon character Betty Boop was influenced by the mannerisms of singer/actress Helen Kane, and those are only a few examples. Many great characters, stories, and plots begin as personal obsessions of the writer – what happens if we tell a Romeo and Juliet story on the Titanic? Well, it’s the movie Titanic! What happens if we take Bonnie and Clyde and turn them into mass murderers? Natural Born Killers. Take a real story that you're obsessed with, change the characters, and fictionalize it.
“When I’m writing something, I try not to get analytical about it as I’m doing it, as I’m writing it.”
~ Quentin Tarantino