Monday, July 16, 2012

Writing from Life


Life is the inspiration of all stories correct?  I often hear writers telling each other that, and to step out and enjoy life so we’ll be ready to write.   How close to your life does your writing get though?  Do you write about the people you overhear at the grocery store?  Neighbors? Friends? Your kids, hubby, parents?  Yourself? 

I know that once you start writing the characters take on their own personality, and are no longer the person from which you developed your idea.  But how close to your own life are you willing to go?  I know I often write out my emotions.  It helps me calm down and deal with things I don’t want to face.  But most of those won’t make it into a story.  Sometimes they do.  But usually I take an emotion that bubbles up and write about that emotion rather than the situation I’m in.   While my stories are neither me nor my life they do have aspects of me and my life in them.  In some ways everything we write is us, our lives, our hearts, because we live it all while we write it.  Yet how often are we writing of things we’ve lived or experienced?

Where do you draw the line between life’s inspirations and your personal life?  Is there anywhere you won’t go? And no I don’t want to hear your personal stories, there’s a reason you won’t write them.  I’m just wondering if people  have found a line they won’t cross and how you knew you shouldn’t go there. 


23 comments:

  1. LOL! Laura Grace, my MC, is a retired high school history teacher who is childless. Need I say more. Though she has other aspects that aren't me--been widowed,adopted a foster child, battled molesters, bakes cakes, cookies, etc at the drop of a hat, and is falling in love with a man who's physical attributes just don't float my boat. ; )

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    1. I've always worried that if I have a character that is a little bit like me, every one will think they are exactly like me and assume all sorts of things because of what happens in the book. I've tried to avoid it.

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  2. A lot of my life slowly creeps into my writing. And when a new character comes on the scene, someone I know automatically enters my mind with them. So, most of my characters are slightly based on people I know. Insightful post, btw. :)

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    1. That's interesting that you think of people you know with new characters. I've only had that happen once or twice.

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  3. Bits and pieces of my life flow in my stories--usually little things that most people would have no idea were something personal. I would never poke fun of or demean someone other than in a light-hearted manner. That's a line I wouldn't cross.

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    1. I agree, that's a line that shouldn't be crossed. Thanks.

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  4. In the beginning, my novels/characters looked a lot like me. I've actually learned a lot about myself and understand myself better because of it. But I know now the lines I will and won't cross, the secrets I will and won't tell. Some aspects of my life are better kept a secret! And unfortunately it's always the good stuff that's worth telling, right?

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    1. It's true, we learn so much about ourselves by writing. That's good you know the lines. That could be awkward if someone published something then it haunted them for the rest of it's published life.

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  5. The lines get blurry sometimes, but I'll go where I think I need to for the sake of the story! :)

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  6. I tend to set my stories in the south and in a town that resembles the one I was born in. I do this really because it's a place I'm familiar and comfortable with.

    My characters all have certain aspects about them that resemble me. In my WIP I have three main female characters: one who looks like me, one who thinks like I do, and one has my sense of humor/sarcasm.I didn't realize this until recently. Other than that, they are their own person.

    As far as situations go, it's not very similar to my own life but I definitely have to put myself in their position in order to get the right emotion.

    Whew long comment! But this was a wonderful post :)

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    1. Stories will ring more true if we are comfortable with the settings. I think we put a little of ourselves into each of our characters, even though they are, as you said, their own person.

      I like long comments, so comment away!

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  7. I certainly do draw on life experiences but I often just write as an escape...places I'd like to see or characters I'd like to be. (:

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    1. Writing is an escape. I've often heard "write what you want to know".

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  8. I tend to use life experiences in my writing, but only in terms of setting, detail, plot, that kind of thing: my characters are almost always inventions who appear in my head fully formed.

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  9. Sometimes my emotions creep in too, but they get filtered based on what the character's doing and their own viewpoint. I can always tell when it's me shoving words in their mouths or when it's them reacting.
    For instance, this morning I tried to have Lyne refer to an old animated show that I like and she just gave me a look like 'what are you talking about?'
    Whereas I heard a friend say something the other day, passed that line to Lyne, and it fit like a glove.

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    1. Isn't it funny how we can tell what's them and what's author? The books where the author couldn't tell that, or didn't care, are the ones that are hard to finish.

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  10. Yeah, the emotion in the situation rather than the situation itself is what I write about. They say write what you know, so you can really draw upon your life's experiences. Like you said about the characters changing from the way you first imagine them, it's the same for me with the feelings. I may start with my original ones but they morph in the writing. But at least they're still grounded in reality.

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    1. Exactly true, that original emotion provides the spark but they grow and become a part of the character.

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  11. A lot of what I write is based on personal experience, but I give it a twist. You're right that the characters often take on a life of their own after you start though. My villains are my favorites, because I get to take revenge on horrible people that have passed through my life!

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    1. Villains are fun to write. I can do things with them that I would never do in real life.

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  12. I have used my writing to cope with great sorrow. I also have questions that seem to appear over and over again. It wasn't until my 3rd book that I saw a common theme: the complexities of the parent/child relationship. I guess I'm no different than most authors, I write about what's important to me. It starts off personal until my characters become so real that I'm left writing their story. I don't know if there's a line I can't cross. I would disguise it as a fictional story anyway, and really wonder if any of my family would notice. Haha. Course, unless they mention it, how can I be sure?

    Great post!

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