How to Use Life Experience to Write Better
Today’s guest post is by Reagan Colbert. Reagan is a Christian Fiction writer who also has a passion for poetry and songwriting. She lives for powerful words, proper grammar, and anything inspirational. She has a blog, www.fiction4hisglory.com. She is currently working on her first novel, Things Unseen.
Readers want something that’s real. They want to live in your novel. They want to become your characters, and feel every joy and heartache right along with them. They want to see, smell, hear, feel, taste. Our struggle as the writer is to deliver to them what they want. Our careers and our very lives depend on how the readers feel. No pressure, right?
So how can you do it? What’s a sure-fire way for your reader to fall in love with your characters? How can you write a story that is real, and at the same time one that is interesting?
Put yourself in the story
You need to be your characters. You need to live inside your book before anyone else can. What’s the easiest way to do that? Write about yourself.
Every writer is different, and every story is unique. But no matter what your novel is about, there are three ways you can put yourself into it:
1. Write your life story
Readers love it when they read, “Based on a true story.” Did this really happen? If the reader can feel they are connected to you as the writer, they’ll love it even more. It adds a whole new dimension to your story.
2. Mix fact with fiction
Let pieces of your life interweave themselves into your novel, along with completely made-up parts. It’s a more flexible option than writing your life story. You can edit out the parts you don’t like, and add plot twists you think would make it better. It keeps that realistic feeling, but you can control the direction.
3. Make yourself the star
Turn your protagonist into yourself. You can have a lot of fun with this one. Give them your strengths and your faults. How would you react if you were in their situation? Make them do the same.
Even if you’re writing something you would never be able to experience, if the protagonist turns into you, you’ll find them making real decisions and having real reactions. You’re not perfect. Neither are your characters.
Write it from experience
It’s one thing to create a story. But if you’re using your life, your experiences, and your personality, then you have all the material before you even start. So why wouldn’t you use it? You’re holding your life in your hands, and you can do anything you want to it.
When I started my novel, I struggled with making it sound alive. My protagonist was a twenty-two year old paraplegic, and the setting was 2,000 miles away from where I lived. It sounded horribly unrealistic until I began to put myself into it.
Even if I couldn’t put myself into her life, I could turn her into me. I made her feel what I would feel, say what I would say. I gave her my quirks and idiosyncrasies. Slowly, she became a real person and it became a real story.
They should sound as real as possible. Nobody wants to read about someone who is perfect. If the reader can understand the protagonist, they can get lost in their world.
It’s what they want. It’s what sells. It’s what we must write.
Do you have any tricks to help put yourself into a story? Let us know in the comments.
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