December 10, 2013

That Brings Up The Question…What Do We Know?

By Susan Reichert, Editor-in-Chief for Southern Writers Magazine

If we are to write about what we know then it might help if we made a list…of what we do know.

To make that list I would start by listing:

Me as a child–my childhood.

Where I grew up.

People living in that town along with my perceptions.

Schools, teachers, and kids I knew, parents, grandparents, books, games played.

Work, career, people at work, the industry, vacations.

In other words, I would write about things relating to me.

But, what about things I’ve been exposed to in my life. Like movies, television, books, colleges, conversations, events, conferences and people I have interacted with–I could use these too.

Now what on this list would be interesting to others? How could I take people I knew, things I experienced, places I’ve been, work I’ve done and create stories of fiction that people would enjoy reading?

It’s called remembering. Yes, I would need to remember incidents in my life, feelings I experienced in order to write a good fiction piece.

Our brain is a marvelous instrument. When you take that list and read it, and think about it, things that happened when you were a child start appearing. Faces of people you knew start emerging. You begin to hear your conversations with others.

Obviously, writing these things down, opens that lock in the recesses of our memories and our past comes into focus. When you write those stories down, you change the names “to protect the innocent” so to speak.

Excerpts from memories make great scenes. For instance, I remember when my sister and I went with our grandfather to deliver a meal to a family. He got out of the truck, left the motor running, and instructed us to sit still and not touch anything. I was six, my sister was four and for sure, he figured we would obey him. Now if you have children, you know two little kids can get into something quickly. We didn’t mean to touch anything, but my foot accidentally hit the wrong thing, and the truck started rolling. We started screaming and he came running. Could you imagine putting this into a story?

Whether you borrow from your memory to create a scene or to create a whole book, you will have used “what you knew” and combined it with “what you know”.

Do you borrow scenes from your past to write?

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