Here was the dilemma.. What takes precedence? To write a memoir about an ordinary man immersed in an extraordinary event that might have limited appeal or write an action/adventure novel surrounding the extraordinary event based upon the memoirs of an ordinary man and cater to a broader audience.
I have written a 170k word book about my experiences in the Navy during the Vietnam War. My original concept was to strictly write a humorous novel dealing with the outlandish behavior of sailors ashore between combat deployments. The war is a sensitive subject for many and to reduce it to comedy seemed inappropriate. So I chose to write the book as an (action/adventure?) novel and interjected a number of humorous anecdotes. There is a back story as to how the MC a once promising officer candidate ended up as an enlisted man thrust into the crucible of war. He is confronted by a regimented and rigorous lifestyle that he must adapt to as well as hostility from enemy and on several occassions friendly forces that he must contend with to survive.
I have changed the names of all the characters, invented others and created dialogue. The names of the ships involved, the missions conducted and many of my eyewitness accounts are unchanged. There are historical references in certain sections tying the ship's missions to factual events explaining the whys and wherefores.
There are pasages from Coleridge's "Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner" interpreted by the MC as an omen and employed to create tension by adding an element of foreshadowing. At the end that tension is never clearly resolved.
My query letter has been promoting the book as a fictionalized memoir. I am not sure if that is an accurate categorization?