I have a pretty good imagination. And I don’t believe writers should restrict themselves to, “Write what you know.” Obviously, you should have a handle on the subject matter. You should draw from personal experience as well as thorough research. But it’s not like I’ve ever seen a ghost, fought off an attacker, and (using my novel Foreshadowed as an example), I don’t know what it’s like to hear/see other people’s thoughts. I write fiction. I make things up. And that’s okay. More than okay. But I definitely use my personal experiences to add some authenticity to my stories.
Here are some examples, from Foreshadowed:
Hope, my main character, likes to play first-person shooting games. I am terrible at those. My husband likes those games and is pretty good at them. I’ve observed him, observed how the games work, and used what I’ve observed in the novel.
That scene where Hope and Bryce are teaching Claire how to play, but she can’t figure out how to raise the gun, and her avatar just keeps spinning in circles? Yeah, that was based on the first time I tried to play Call of Duty. Personal experience.
Foreshadowed takes place in the Tri-Cities, Washington. This is an actual place. Richland, Kennewick, and Pasco are three cities in eastern Washington near the Columbia River. I grew up in Kennewick, and now I live in Richland. I made up a few places (like the restaurant where Bryce works), but the high school, the Hanford site, and the alphabet houses are real. I know the setting, so it’s a lot easier to describe.
Lance gets headaches and sometimes migraines because of the accident. Hope gets headaches when there are too many thoughts around her and when she tries to read minds from a great distance. I haven’t been in as traumatic an accident as Lance, and again, I don’t read minds, but I am no stranger to headaches.
They have been a part of my life since elementary school. I don’t have any proof (yet), but I believe they’re connected to a horse kicking me in the head when I was four years old. I get a lot of headaches, and frequent migraines. So I know how to describe them, I know how debilitating they can be, and I know how they affect moods.
You don’t have to be in love to write about love, but it helps. It certainly helps me. There is a moment in the book when Hope says:
His smirk turns into a grin, and it transforms his face. I bite down on my bottom lip as a wave of affection suddenly hits me—hits and drowns me. How did I not realize how much I cared about him before?
This was sort of based on my real-life romance. On the outside, it looks like my husband and I had a whirlwind romance. We dated for a week before we started talking about marriage. A few weeks later, he officially popped the question. A few months after that, we were married. Yes, it was quick, but I still feel like the relationship sneaked up on me–and that’s what I tried to do with Hope and Lance. I didn’t want them to look at each other and know. I wanted her to slowly realize, little by little, that she truly, deeply cared for this boy.
I was always aware of Chris. I was always happier when he was around. But I didn’t think I was interested in him. I was interested in someone else. Slowly, little by little, I started to realize I liked him. Then we started dating. The scene from above? It’s based on the moment I realized I was falling in love.
We were sitting in the back of his sister’s car, driving to Sunday dinner at his parents’ house. It was my first time meeting his family. We hadn’t been dating very long. He had his arm around me. His sister had a mixed CD playing, and we were singing along and sort of dancing to the music. Waves of affection kept washing over me. I would look at him and think, “Wow.” And that was the moment I realized I was probably going to marry this man. It was good timing…because that was the night he told me he loved me. 🙂