Sunday, October 5, 2008

Quote of The Week

"The first step to becoming a better writer is believing your own experience is worth writing about."

Peter Marmorek

I really like this quote, it reminds me that even though I haven't lived a particularly glamorous life doesn't mean I'm not capable of writing some very interesting stories.

I recall, years ago, seeing an author interviewed and asked how she came up with such wonderful details for her stories. She looked surprised and puzzled for a second, and I realized right then that even though she was now famous and well known, she wasn't always that way. There was a time that she was just an ordinary, everyday person who wanted to write.

She used places and people she knew in her stories, with modifications of course. If she wrote about the beach, she had been to that beach, and if she wrote about a coffee shop, she had been to that coffee shop. Perhaps, that actual beach or coffee shop doesn't look quite the same in her books as it does in real life, but then, she's an author, she has the privilege of being able to create a whole new place.

Writing about places you haven't actually been to can be difficult and can leave readers annoyed if not done well. Getting the details of where the city hall building is wrong can really aggravate some readers. But if you've visited the locale, you can give an authenticity that someone who's only read about a place cannot. It helps give your story more of a sense of realism and can keep your reader from remembering this isn't reality, it's only a story.

Anyone's personal experiences can be interesting, given the right presentation.


BernardL said...

The quote rings true in that we all have a tendency to believe our real life experiences are meaningless. When you realize the many harrowing real life obstacles each of us overcomes through the years, the imagination has a solid basis to work from. :)

Virginia Lady said...

True, Bernard, and it's amazing what our imaginations can create.

Shauna Roberts said...

Although I regret I didn't start writing fiction at a younger age and so have more years of life doing it, it's very clear to me that what I'm writing now is so much richer and nuanced than what I could have written when young. I have so many more experiences (not only mine, but my friends' as well) to draw on, I know so much more about the world, I've been more places . . . .

Stewart Sternberg said...

Interesting. I wrote a story set in Montana around during the early 1800's. Thank GOD for the net. I was able to find numerous photos of the area and read accounts from different people who traveled through there.

Virginia Lady said...

Thanks for visiting, Shauna. Age does bring more experience to draw from, no doubt.

That's a great way to 'experience' the area, Stewart. Other people can give you different views that can really help round out your perception, and reading multiple accounts can help you in avoiding errors. Thanks for stopping by.