Friday, December 31, 2010

Life in Your Writing

I had a discussion with a friend last night and it occurred to me that, in our effort to make our stories life-like, we endeavor to use all manner of tricks of the trade. 'Use all five senses to describe scenes', 'follow the order of notice in descriptions', 'not too many adjectives', 'avoid repetition'. Well, you know the list - it's a long one, but did you think to add bits and pieces of your life into your story? We all have different experiences, different opinions, different surroundings. Why not include some of that - in a way - into your story?

Lets say, you have a friend who is totally eccentric. Take a moment and analyze them. Hand movements, quirky habits, like what do they do when they get their mail, choice of wardrobe, speech habits. Now, I'm not saying you should put this person in your story, but you could pick one of those aspects and tack it to one of your characters, and since you already know the original, you are that much more attached to your character. It's that attachment that lends life to your character, and by association, to your story.

I happen to be watching the TV show, Monk, at the moment. I love that show, Monk is hilarious. I couldn't begin to have a character like Monk in one of my stories. I think a character such as Monk is unique. I don't care how many differences I put in, if I included his phobias, it would border on fan fiction, so you can't pick something easily attached to a well known someone, but there are so many little things you can use. Have you ever watched how someone uses their hands while they're talking? How about if they are really excited about something? How about if they're really worried about something?

In short, look at the people around you. Take note of what they do and use that information. Me, I am always including some kind of information on winter, anything from snowshoeing to cutting firewood, and if you've read any of my work, there may even be something about tracking or hunting, though not much will be modern day.

So tell me, what bits and pieces of your life have you dripped into your writing?

9 comments:

Grace Mimmo said...

Great tips Anna!

Anna L. Walls said...

Thanks Grace. A comment so soon, is totally thrilling so thanks for that too.

D said...

Much of the mannerisms of the lead male in my book are based off of my self, and, much of the mannerisms of the lead female are based of off Cerena. The processes in which I think, and make decisions, and my emotional processes are what I'm sticking with.

D said...

Oh, that last post was me...David Sullivan, lol. Didn't realize it wouldn't put my name.

Anna L. Walls said...

Hello David. I hoped you'd find this post. You inspired it. It is only right that you stick with the mannerisms you're familiar with. I do it all the time. Just because your two main characters are based off yourself and Cerena doesn't mean you should go ahead and develop your schizophrenic-ness. Being able to put yourself into many different characters, being able to BE those characters who are different from yourself, being able to make decisions as that different person, it's all part of being a writer. Have fun with it.

jacqui said...

How funny you'd bring this up. I have a character in my current thriller who's a geeky genius. I modeled him after a friend of mine. Get this--my writer's club thinks he's not believable!

Well, it could be my writing. I guess I'll have to work on that. Have a great new year, Anna. Keep up the blogging.

Anna L. Walls said...

That may be the problem we all have with geeks. Very few of us really understand them, and therefore they become an awkward character at best. Make us understand what makes him tick - that'll likely be the necessary step you need to make.

Hart Johnson said...

I love Monk, too! He is definitely an extreme case--so extreme that it was probably risky to make him a character, but it really works. I definitely draw from quirks people have (or I have--I try to spread my own across a variety so no one is actually LIKE me) but there are some experiences that just have to be included somehow, even if they are toned down because life is so much stranger than fiction.

Anna L. Walls said...

It certainly can be sometimes, Hart. It's possible Monk may not have worked as well in a book - too complicated. But Tony Shalhoub does such a great job on TV. Thanks for stopping by.