3 Ways to Use Life Experiences to Help Write a Great Story

From time to time in this space, Balboa Press publishes articles written in which we hope to provide tips on writing, editing and publishing. Here are some tips we have for you on writing from your past experiences. Download our free publishing guide to receive more information on self-publishing your book with Balboa Press. 

You have probably heard the old adage, “write what you know”.  That is great advice for any aspiring author. However, too many writers believe those words only apply to factual knowledge when they should actually serve as encouragement to draw on all your experiences for writing. ba526788-1724-479d-bfb5-831030a88474In other words, don’t neglect your remembrance of smells and touch and emotions and particular sounds and dialect. As a writer, you have a vast resource of experiences to draw from to make your writing as good as it can be. Here are three ways you can tap experiences from your past..

Keith Ogorek wrote about this some time ago on his IndieBookWriters blog. We’ve summarized his thoughts with our twist. We hope these help!

Draw from places you have visited.

Many writers try to describe locations and scenes they have never visited. This becomes problematic when their descriptions are usually incorrect and falls flat. When you are creating a scene, it is best to have visited the site so you can draw upon your memory of the place. Take the time to bring the scene to life for the reader. Making up a setting for a fantasy novel is fine, but I would not recommend describing a location from someone else’s description.

Use dialogue and physical description to convey emotion instead of telling the reader how the character feels.

One mistake most first time writers make is telling the readers what a character is experiencing emotionally. This is not the best way to bring the character to life. Writing in that way reads more like a newspaper than a novel. Instead, use dialogue to unveil what the character is feeling or thinking.

Visit your past to find things to use today.

When you think about writing, you should think about all the experiences of your life as a place to look for inspiration. Smells you remember as a child. Time spent with crazy relatives. Car rides with the family. Any or all of those may be resources you can draw from to make your writing more interesting.

Balboa Press authors who’d like to share a 350-600 word experience related to the self-publishing of their books, are invited to do so by sending a message through our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/BalboaPress, by tweeting us @BalboaPress, or by emailing blog@ balboapress.com. We may not be able to use every story, but we will read and consider them. Balboa Press reserves the right to edit stories for content, grammar and punctuation accuracy; as well as for space.

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