Sunday, September 14, 2008

Calling On Your Life Experiences

Real life can sometimes be the pits. There are schedules, telephone calls, emails, bosses, co-workers, relatives, kids. Wow. So much to do, so little time.

All those things that make you holler out, "Calgon, take me away!" can also be gems when it comes to your writing. Have a boss you can't stand? Make him the villain in your book and kill him. Is your sister a nag? Give her monster kids who destroy whatever they touch. Do you have a friend who always brags about everything she has? Have her invest all her money in a company that goes under. Ah, yes, revenge is sweet.

Too mean, you say? Okay, how about the special friend who can't seem to get a fair break? Give her the hero and let her live happily ever after. Do you have the best brother in the world? Let him find his dream job. Are your parents wonderful? They bought the winning lottery ticket!

Do I use real experience in my books, you ask? Of course. I doubt if there's an author who hasn't drawn on something from her/his life and used it in a book. Do I use real people? Yes and no. I borrow from a person's life, but rarely pattern a character exactly after a real person. I want to keep my friends. :-)

You can add the good in with the bad. It's your book, your story. Call on all your life experiences, or those of the people close to you, and use them. Add your own personal touch. Real life may be stranger than fiction, but it can also be glorious.



Tielle St. Clare said...

I don't know that I use my life experiences as much. I'll use a funny situation but it never occurs to me to kill off my boss. He's annoying sometimes but not evil enough to warrant being ripped apart by a werewolf.

What I do find is those "Calgon" moments inspire me to retreat into my head, to block out the stress of the real world and spend time in my stories. I get a little jolt of creativity when I'm stressed by real life.

Micqui Miller said...

I agree with Lynn---character assassination via fiction is wonderfully theraputic.

One of my favorite writing instructors insisted that the only difference between fiction writers and psychotics is that we KNOW what we're doing and do it anyway--at least in print.

Good thought starter, Lynn.

Micqui Miller

Lynn LaFleur said...

Thanks for your comments, ladies!


Titania Ladley said...

***Have a boss you can't stand? Make him the villain in your book and kill him.***

Not that I'm a vindictive person or anything *G*, but it's true, it can be very therapeutic to incorporate tidbits of events, things, or people---whether good or bad--into your books. A lot of times, those thorns in our real-life sides can be fodder for some very creative inspiration. Great post, Lynn!


Angelia Sparrow said...

I use a lot of my life-experience in my writing.

Granted, I've never sailed a sloop on the Spanish Main, flown a starship, or tuned into a wolf on the full moon.

But, I do drive a semi truck (I write a fair few trucking stories), worked in a library and a casino, and lived in a lot of the cities I write in.

I know the little abandoned service station in Greasy Corner where Johnny Cotton meets the Devil, the Cooper-Young district of Memphis and the lake cabin where Robin and David play at being pirates in September.

When Chuck Hummingbird fires up his rig, it's with all my confidence. And when Seven takes his turn at the wheel, I'm drawing on all the panic I ever felt.

When Nikolai rides from Memphis to Louisville in the spring, it's my memories of that run.

My life is in the interstices of the stories. If you look cross-eyed, you might catch a glimpse.

N.J.Walters said...

I've used tidbits of my life experiences. Moments really.

But sometimes you really get a gem of an idea from your life.

Joey W. Hill said...

I believe someone told me once that method acting was using emotions the actor has felt in the past to believably act in a specific scene. The example they used is when the hero's best friend dies, the actor playing the hero calls on emotions he felt when he lost someone - a dog, a friend, a family member - to reflect that emotional condition on screen.

While I use bits and pieces of people I know, it's usually a Frankenstein's monster thing - those bits and pieces bring the creature to life, but once he's up and moving around, the experiences start to turn him into his own person (or character - smile). But as Angelia said (in a very visual, creative way, btw), using past experiences to recreate emotions, etc - that is one way I definitely use real life to enrich my stories. "Method" writing, I guess we could call it!:>

Cait Miller said...

I do draw on my real life to a certain extent, real life can be stranger than anything I can make up! I have based characters entirely on real people, right down to the name because I know they'd love it. My character in Believe In The Magic called Dan is based on a real person who passed away last year. He got a real kick out of it. I have had people ask me to put them in the book, lol! I used my actual job at the time to give my heroine a sucky occupation to escape from and to help her bump into the hero. I also use little bits of people in characters, little quirks to make thm real.