Monday, March 5, 2012

How Real Life Enhances Your Fiction

It might seem obvious to use your real life experiences in your fiction. After all, you are living different “episodes” each day you make it out of bed. We all know what it’s like to see a day start out awful. You kick your toe on the edge of the bed. Maybe you spill a cup of coffee on your freshly pressed slacks. The dog chews your homework. You get the picture. Even in the seemingly mundane we can observe personality traits (or quirks) that may work for a character in a story. Or perhaps your boss calls you into her office and tells you that presentation you only “talked” about needs to be ready in ten minutes. Pressure? Anxiousness? Some more story fodder.

I’ve experienced moments of extreme joy and pain, just like we all have. Witnessing the birth of four children; watching one of them nearly die from a liver disease and then receive the gift of a new liver. Serving in the military out of high school was a defining point in my life and growing into manhood. I’ve survived a car accident I never should have even been part of and I’ve lost in the game of love more than once. But you don’t have to look to only your personal experiences. What about the people you know? Their occupations? How about your family history? What legacy did your grandparents or great-grandparents leave? Even if you never spoke with them personally, what can you learn from their life?

You don’t have to be a spy or skydiver or CIA agent to live an eventful life. Use what you know and mix it together with what you’ve seen, what you’ve gleaned from others and news from the world around you. In the end, you’ll find your story and characters will become more engaging and relatable.

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