Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Realism in fiction

My favorite thing about writing fiction is that you can create and make-up new places, people, things, all kinds of crazy awesome stuff that's just waiting to come out of your imagination. It's amazing, isn't it? But even with all that, there's always realism built into fiction. Whether it's a description of something already known: like an animal, a place, an object, or if it's an action or reaction, or whatever it may be.

So my question is: How much research or real-life experience do you infuse into your stories?

I'm definitely one of those people that like research when it comes to writing. My last manuscript was about a siren and I remember spending hours in the library or online researching so many things about the ocean and sea-life. Most of it I didn't even use, but I'm still glad that I looked it up. It either helped spark an idea for something else in the book or was just pretty interesting to know anyway. I still have my notebook full of scribbled notes and sketches. I'll probably have notebooks for every manuscript I write.

My current WiP is about space and diseases and scary stuff. And while I certainly have never been to space or contracted a deadly disease, I still have life experiences that I can breathe into this story. In fact, one of the most terrifying of experiences in my life will be used. One of my characters will need CPR at one point in the story and I've recently (within this year) had to perform CPR. I don't relish the idea of rehashing this memory of mine. At all. I'm sure I'll cry while writing that scene even. But even knowing that, I'll still draw upon that memory to help create a realistic experience for anyone who reads my book. (Note: this is *not* me saying I'm glad to have done CPR just so I could use the experience and write about it in a book)

Okay so that last bit was a little depressing. Sorry guys. Your life experiences don't need to be quite so dramatic as that. I also have some much nicer research & experiences to use related to this WiP. Promise. But what I'm trying to get at is that researching and using your own experiences--I believe--can really add another layer to your story and animate it in a whole new way.

So what about you guys? Do any of you ever research things for your book? Ever put something you've personally experienced into your story?

1 comment:

  1. It's crazy to me how much life experience DOES effect writing. Even unintentionally. I think that's why there's a little of every writer (or someone in a writer's life) in characters and pages that we write. It's impossible to separate the two completely.

    But I'm a mediocre researcher. I have found when I know something it's a little easier to write it. I've done some research with this WIP on locations and pictures.