How much of yourself do you put into your writing? How much of other people to do you jot out onto the pages? Do you take real life conflicts you’ve had and work them into your stories? Other people’s problems you’ve witnessed?
I never realized how much of myself went into my stories until my husband read several and said the heroine’s were all me. There were little differences, quirks and nuances, hair coloring, hobbies, likes and dislikes, but beyond those, he could see me.
You’ve heard that funny threat before that writers often use, “Don’t piss me off or you’ll end up in my next book!” So tell me have you ever done this?
A previous job I had, my boss was a terrible, manipulative, passive aggressive woman. More often than not, she would take credit for work I completed, and I just hated her! Anyways… she ended up in a book I couldn’t help it. The character I was creating was so like her, and then I realized, it was because it was her.
Think about places you’ve been, do you use what you see, smell, hear in your stories? I know that having been to Ireland and smelling the peat fires, seeing the sheep dotting the hills, climbing the stairs of a ruined castle, has helped me to capture the essence of history in my stories. But even if you can’t get to the world your story takes place in, there is always Google Earth and Internet searches! I think one thing that we as writers must do to capture our settings and our characters is to really immerse ourselves. Your character loves to cook lets say, you better get some cookbooks, watch some cooking shows, spend time at the grocery store, COOK, and really appreciate all your character loves, so your reader can grasp the reality of it, feel the love of cooking leap off the page.
Your character is a secret agent lets say… visit a spy museum, interview a retired agent, read non-fiction about it. Break out the nerf guns and play spy with your kids! Hey, I do it! Dragging your family into your research can be a lot of fun. We visit a lot of places, we have interesting conversations. Mom’s off in her own little world sometimes, but they have a blast with it!
Your character’s favorite scent is orange blossom, well guess what, you have to know what it smells like right?
In other words… Even if you write historical, future, sci-fi, fantasy, thriller, whatever, that doesn’t mean you can’t immerse yourself in your own setting and hang out with your own characters–it just might take a little more. Art imitates life. Sure of it is made up fantastical stuff. Its not like I can really go back in time and observe everyday people, but I can do the next best thing. As writers, we have to take life, this big blob of just about everything, and pluck a little this, a little that, a whole lot of this, and even more of that, toss it in a bowl, mix it around, chuck the boring stuff, and Voila! A fun story readers can engage in!
Question, sort of like the chicken and the egg… What comes first, art imitating life, or life imitating art?
How do you breathe life into your characters and your stories?
Eliza Knight is the author of sizzling historical romance and erotic romance. Visit Eliza at www.elizaknight.com
Releasing April 28th!
Pursued by kidnappers, Lady Tessa Woodward is running for her life. When handsome Captain Jeremy Williams comes to her rescue in the backstreets of Paris, she persuades him to help her escape France and return to her home in England.
Captain Jeremy Williams is captivated by Lady Tessa’s fiery nature and agrees to give her passage aboard his ship. Once on board, his desire grows and soon reveals a sensual side to the woman he can’t deny. But when danger threatens his lady, will the captain dare all to save her?