ASKED: Are your books inspired by your experiences?

I’m often asked questions about writing in general … and about the specifics of my own experience with publishing. Since my answers might prove useful, I thought I’d be more systematic about answering them. Behold, a new kind of writerly chit-chat is born!

Q. This question is from openmeadow and came up during a Q&A session on 08/22/14:

How much of what your characters go through is inspired by what you are experiencing, either situational or emotional? As an author to a fledgling writer, how do you find that balance?

A. My life is entirely ordinary. (Well, as ordinary as my sort can manage.) So very little of what goes into my books comes from personal experience. These worlds are imaginary, yet real to me. No matter the setting, people think and feel and do in their own ordinary ways. Even fictional ones. However, since I am who I am, and I know what I know, part of me ends up in the story whether I meant it to or not. Like a child inheriting family traits, a book bears some resemblance to its author.

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COMPARE NOTES:

♦ What about you? Do you see yourself in your characters?

♦ Which parts of your experiences lend a touch of reality to your storytelling?

There’s oodles of writing inspiration on my “Words” board over on Pinterest. Give it a browse!

If you have questions of an authorial nature, please visit the “Ask the Author” tab and leave a comment. Your curiosity may inspire an upcoming post!

5 thoughts on “ASKED: Are your books inspired by your experiences?

  1. Rachel says:

    In some cases the characters I create have traces of me in them, however this is never intentional. I do however think in a different way e.g. ” If I was to run into Jesus, here on earth, how would I react?” So forth and so on. It was recently pointed out to me that a weak point in myself showed up in one of my written characters… How I wish my flaws were not transmited to my chacaters!!

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  2. Arian says:

    I can see my own faults in various of my characters. If I ask, “Who has this flaw? And who has this one?” I can usually name someone who has each one.

    A couple of them are “me if I were in the situation I’m describing”, and although one of them is pretty much exactly me, and would react as I would both positively and negatively, another one is “me without the things that hold me back in real life”, and what her faults are I don’t actually know.

    Which is a problem, despite Rachel’s comment above. If the character doesn’t have my flaws, she needs some of her own, and it concerns me that I don’t know what they are. I wouldn’t have told you she was perfect, but in what particular ways is she imperfect? I’ll have to look into that.

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    • Arian says:

      I think perhaps that if she saw a situation that she thought was unjust or unfair, she would jump in and try and do something about it, without stopping to think about whether what she was doing was likely to produce the best outcome.

      That’s not the direction I’d fail in. I’m more likely to see the injustice, but lack the self-esteem and self-conviction to act. Whereas she’d rush in where angels fear to tread; her lack of fear of doing the wrong thing could result in her doing the wrong thing.

      Her husband would be the one advising caution in that situation, and she’d probably listen to him. But I doubt she’d listen to anyone else, even if it turned out later that they were right.

      Phew. She’s a person after all. I was beginning to be afraid she was a wish-fulfilment dream. :)

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