Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Writing Tip - Use Fiction to Relive the Past

I'm always reluctant to give advice to other writers. That's probably not the best way to begin this post.

See, as this is a blog geared towards writers and readers, I do plan on providing you fine people with some words of wisdom from time to time. But I'm also of the opinion that what works for one writer may be utterly useless for another. We all have different opinions regarding what does and does not qualify as "success," and I feel as though that fact alone makes it hard to dole out advice to other writers. We hold ourselves to different standards.

Still, just as you can't let your excuses for not writing hold you back, you can't let your doubts about the validity of "writing tips" keep you from providing what may be valuable information to others.

When it comes to non-fiction writing, I tend to be fairly business-like. My job is to get the work done. Fiction, on the other hand, is a playground for me, and everyone knows that the point of a playground is to have fun.

Sure, you want to write something that sells, or something that touches readers, or something that you can be proud of, but the work of writing, if you're going to spend so much time doing it, might as well be enjoyable, right?

I've found that one of the most effective ways to enjoy the playground that is fiction writing is to remember a time in your life that you miss, and make that your setting. I've been out of college for three years, and for someone who dealt with social anxiety for about two decades, college was an amazing experience for me. While I excelled academically, I also learned how to let go of some of my insecurities and just have a good time. Since graduating, I've desperately wanted to relive the experiences I had during that period of my life.

My upcoming series, The Dark Triad, will accomplish just that. Although it is a horror-comedy that is about as grounded in reality as Ghostbusters or John Dies at the End, plenty of the details sandwiched between the Satanic cults and zombie attacks are pulled directly from my life. The narrator is based on myself, the main characters are based on my friends, and the first episode begins during the summer before I went off to college. As the series progresses and these characters go off to school, I'll definitely incorporate a lot of what I miss about those years into the story.

No, this does not mean that it will end up being thousands of words on the subject of cheap beer, video games, and studying, but it does mean that I'll be able to revisit a time in my life that I miss.

(And, ya know, if enough people buy it, maybe it'll let me be a writer and enjoy this period of my life even more. There's no point in being ashamed to admit it: I want to make a living as a writer, and I'm willing to do whatever it takes to do so.)

Anyway, that's my advice for you. If possible, use your fiction as a vessel to bring you somewhere you want to go. It doesn't even have to be a place from your own life. If you're working in a genre like fantasy, I can only hope that your own life doesn't much resemble the world in which your characters live -- though if it does, you must live one badass life -- but that doesn't mean it can't be the type of world you would like to visit if you could.

Like I said before, as writers, we all want different things, but I think that a good many of us want to have fun. This tip can help you do that.

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