Sometimes coming up with great characters, or settings, and maybe even plots can be challenging. Especially when we want to dive deep into the creative genes that our minds are composed of and come up with that story. You know the one? The one that editor will simply have to take.
As a writer, I’ve often found myself struggling to compose a scene, or transcribe a character’s attributes onto paper and it’s worse than pulling teeth, because at least the teeth eventually come out. Some call it “writer’s block” but what I’m talking about doesn’t quite fit into that terminology. I’m not targeting the concept of trying to figure out what to write, but rather, trying to figure how to write about what you’ve decided to write about. (Did that sentence just twist your brain, or what?) Here’s my take on when you’re in over your head: write from real life. More often than not, the best stories, the best writing come from your personal experience. And while we think that’s nothing to write about, consider this: no one has experienced your life, with the exception of you.
Write From Real Life
Look around you when you’re out and about. Sit in a coffee shop and watch, eavesdrop (with tact and subtly), and take notes. One of my favorite characters that will be in my upcoming release with Bethany House Publishers in 2017, is a die-hard football fan who female and in her mid-60’s. This is a common everyday experience, if you live in Wisconsin. Older women walking around with cheesehead earrings, football jerseys, and a rather overwhelming since of football-pride. So what to me seemed oh so normal became a colorful character who makes the story unique.
What makes the places you frequent special? My coffee shop? It certainly isn’t a novel idea (lol) to put a coffee shop into a book. But what makes mine interesting are all the tin, gaudily painted lizards hanging on the wall. In a coffee shop? Who does that? Mine does. Not to mention the Christmas lit tree branches and African art. It’s an eclectic shop. It’s not Pinteresty at all, but it’s my hangout. It makes a story unique.
Let’s go detailed. What is the rug like in your kitchen? You know, the one in front of your sink? Do you have one, or is wood flooring? Mine is laminate wood with a brown wool rectangular rug that squishes between my toes and makes me happy with its splash of red, teal, and yellow circles. It’s what makes the room unique, and it adds a unique zing to a setting description.
This one can be difficult to muster. Sometimes, as writers, we have to go places inside of ourselves that is difficult. Revisiting the day one of my best friends, my Gramma, passed away immediately conjures an aching gap inside of my chest that catches my breath. But again, it’s my experience and one that translates onto the page of the novella I’m writing where my heroine has lost someone dear to her. Or perhaps it’s a pleasant emotion, that first kiss, the glance across the room when everything else became a blur with the exception of your future spouse, or the birth of your child, the adoption of a pet . . . it’s what makes emotions unique. Life has presented itself to you in a way that is, if you haven’t gotten tired of the word already, unique.
God has gifted you with a precious treasure, your life. Use it. Seek it out. Draw on it. Grasp it. Frame it. Put it into words. It is beautiful and in the end, it is your story.
About Jaime Jo Wright
Professional coffee drinker & ECPA/Publisher’s Weekly best-selling author, Jaime Jo Wright resides in the hills of Wisconsin writing spirited romantic suspense stained with the shadows of history. Coffee fuels her snarky personality. She lives in Neverland with her Cap’n Hook who stole her heart and will not give it back, their little fairy TinkerBell, and a very mischievous Peter Pan. The foursome embark on scores of adventure that only make her fall more wildly in love with romance and intrigue.
Jaime lives in dreamland, exists in reality, and invites you to join her adventures atjaimejowright.com.
“The Cowgirl’s Lasso”, The Cowboy Bride’s Novella Collection – Barbour Publishing
“Gold Haven Heiress”, California Gold Rush Romance Collection – Barbour Publishing