Sometimes we writers forget to look for stories that have roots in our childhood; the ways in which we were raised and everyday life experiences.
Two things to note about these times. One is how they influence our lives and the other how they can influence our writing.
There are many hidden stories in these areas.
Every age has a memory or more that may have a story. Whether we were five, ten, fifteen or older. What about the stories of us as babies our parents talked about? I have a few of those. Then there are the memories of grammar school, high school, college, young adult, newlywed, birth of our children, raising our children, losing our parents or a loved one and growing old. There are hundreds of stories. Every person we have encountered in our lives has left an influence that may have the beginnings of a story.
You can see now; writers have a vast well to draw forth the makings of stories. There are characters, plots, scenes, dialogues galore down in this well. All writers must do is pull these up and place them on the screen of their computer. Regardless of your age, you have enough material to write many books, I have heard we have at least material for 20 to 30 books or tons of short stories. I would imagine you are now asking yourself, “Why haven’t I written this many books?” The answer could be you never thought of it that way…but your memory knows these stories are there and can direct you to those treasures in your well.
Ernest Hemmingway’s mother insisted he learn to play the cello, which was a source of conflict, as it would be for most children. However, he later admitted the music lessons were useful to his writing structure as evident in For Whom the Bell Tolls. A memory brought forth and used.
Every time a thought surfaces from our memory of years gone by, we could write it down. Perhaps once we write that memory down, others will start pouring out. Each memory that comes to the surface may be your next best seller.
Take that memory, write down what you remember about it as well as who were the people involved and what kind of conversations do you remember surrounding this memory. Do you remember your emotions or other people’s emotions with this memory? In other words, everything you can pull forth from the recesses of your mind, write down. These memories are trying to connect with you, so let them flow.
It is wise to keep a journal writing these memories in there. Eventually you can either write a book about some of these memories or use them on stories you are in the process of writing. The important thing is to get them on paper. Then you can determine if you will use them.
Massaging every piece is helpful because it brings about more memories. You are priming the pump so to speak.
Some of the things I have written down are stories about my grandparents. Hopefully when my sister and I have enough, we can create a book for our children and grandchildren and other generations that will come so they too can meet and know these two wonderful people and their values.
Most of all, have fun bringing to life these old memories.
Susan Reichert, author of Between Me and You, God’s Prayer Power and Storms in Life. She has written numerous magazine articles and stories in anthology books. She is a speaker at writing conferences, seminars, and libraries.
She is the founder of Southern Author Services, and Editor of Suite T. Also, the founder of
Collierville Christian Writers Group (CCWriters Group), and founder and co-publisher of Southern Writers Magazine. A national magazine for authors and readers (which is retired now). At the time she was the Editor-in-Chief of Southern Writers Magazine.
Reichert has a passion for writing about God in devotionals, prayers, and inspirational works.
She and her husband live in Tennessee. They have four grown daughters with families of their own.
Member of the: DAR; First Families of Mississippi.
Thanks for this article and great insights about how the stories and memories from our past can be a rich story source for our writing. Almost every magazine uses personal experience stories (of course targeted for that publication's needs). It's another way to get your writing in the market besides in books.
author of 10 Publishing Myths, Insights Every Author Needs to Succeed
Thank you Terry, you are right. Magazines do use personal experience stories because readers love to read that information.Delete
Great advice, Susan. We each have a wealth of memories to draw on for our stories, whether we write fiction or non-fiction.ReplyDelete
Thanks Kay. Sometimes young authors don't realize how much that have in memories that would be wonderful in books, but as we get older, we not only revisit those memories, but find we can infuse them into our stories.Delete
Really good advice. A lot of my memories end up in my books...like how my dad used to show us the constellations.ReplyDelete
Thanks Patricia. I am glad to know some of your memories wind up in your books. Maybe that is why they are so good!Delete