Using Everyday Life in Writing

As I sit down to write a novella, my mind goes over the conversations, memories, and stories from my life. I usually mix and match pieces and parts of my life experience to develop ideas, characters, and storylines. This is where I take an uncles quirk, an aunts funny story, and a cousin’s actions to create the hero. A story I may have heard as a kid is changed to a new location and in a new decade to become the main storyline. Another experience I had as a child now occurs in a new decade to a minor character.

I have been asked to include people in my stories. I respond by explaining that I may use their name, something they did, or what they may have said. However, I don’t use them in a way that someone could recognize them or something they did. More importantly just because I use your first name doesn’t mean I won’t use my cousin’s last name. Or if I use your name I will put it in a neighbors story. I don’t use entire stories, and I don’t create a story around a single event. What I do is build a story out of the information I have stored in my head. Some of this information I have wrong, and some of it may not have even occurred. No matter the quality this material is used to build the story.

Once I write the first draft the events, I edit the content. During this process names are events changed even further. So what may have been a short trip down the Wabash River now becomes life threatening white water rafting trip in Europe chased by international criminals. Not all my stories turn out well. Some are finished and left buried on my hard drive. My first novel among them. I do not waste the creation because the effort used to build those stories feeds into newer articles, stories, and books.

People and experiences fill our lives with what we call color. Using them to create stories that readers will enjoy seems like a proper use of information that otherwise would remain among the cobwebs of my brain. The best part of this is that we all have this same ability to recall things from our lives and create stories. You probably have a few stories in you just waiting to get out.

About Fred Fanning Author

Fred Fanning spent over 20 years in the safety profession. His final safety position was as the Director of Occupational Safety and Health for the U.S. Department of Commerce. He began writing in 1994, published his first book in 1998, and began writing professionally in 2015. He has authored and coauthored articles, written books, and chapters for technical books and stories for anthologies.
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