This blog was inspired by a post I read at Indie Plot Twist, Write What You Know.
Living a dull life?
Danielle Hanna (half of Indie Plot Twist) and I both live in small towns in North Dakota. Just because it’s a small town, doesn’t mean it’s dull.
Read the newspaper
Unfortunately, you will find political intrigue, shootings, explosions, train wrecks…
Local police department
Have you ever done a ride along with the P.D.? I haven’t, though I did volunteer at my local police substation back in Albuquerque (and I still have contacts at the P.D. in case I have police-procedure questions).
Nearly every weekend, even in small towns, there are holiday events, festivals, or ethnic events.
How about a conference, like the Annual Bloggers and Writers Conference in Fargo, North Dakota?
Everywhere you look, you see history
What’s the history behind that building that houses the art museum?
What’s the history of Main Street?
What events changed your town? The flood of 2011 comes to mind.
Your past life
Most of my short stories and poetry reflect my knowledge, memories, experiences – both good and bad.
I have plenty of fond memories from my long-ago life – growing up on the east coast with Mom and Ang and brothers, building snow forts and skating on the local pond, Christmas caroling with friends, summer vacations. Even if you don’t want to write about long ago, you can use these memories to enhance your current characters and stories.
Look at old pictures
I have taken thousands of photos over the years. When I go back and study them, I see things I never noticed before. Old photos are great if you want to remember how the hair styles and clothing styles were for that era (if you are old enough to have another era). I also have a slew of old photos from my mom’s generation and beyond.
Jobs in your past
Most of us have numerous career experiences. I’ve worked a bunch of different jobs – dry cleaners, large corporations, small-town government, uniform warehouse, conference planning, loading dock, accounting, school for the deaf, and more. Tap your memories!
So many contacts
We all chat online via Facebook and LinkedIn. Why not utilize some of these contacts for their knowledge, information on their jobs, and their day-to-day challenges? We are all connected to professionals like doctors, lawyers, bankers, chefs, etc.
What if we want a character that does something we know nothing about?
Say, a character who is an archaeologist? That’s okay because I’m taking an online class in archaeology right now through Coursera. I’m learning just enough to be dangerous (or at least enough to include some of my newly-learned tidbits in my prose).
Or, conduct research at your local library or historical society.
Small town life
While I was writing this blog, an article about life in a little town popped up on Pamela Wight’s Rough Wighting blog, In My Little Town.
What experiences in your life have inspired your stories or characters?
What local happenings have inspired events in your stories?
Have any of your previous jobs made it into your stories?
Are you in a small town or big city?
A plug for my inspiration
Danielle Hanna learned how to read and write at age four and knew she wanted to be an author by the time she was seven. She now writes Christian mysteries. When she’s not riveted to her computer, you can find her camping, hiking, and biking with her German Shepherd/Rottweiler Molly. Danielle and Carrie Lynn Lewis partner at Indie Plot Twist.
Carrie Lynn Lewis has been writing for personal enjoyment most of her life. Her favorite genres are mystery, suspense, and political thriller, with manuscripts in the works in each of those categories. She is also an active critique partner for other authors, both published and unpublished. Carrie personal writing blog can be found at Writing Well.
At Indie Plot Twist, Danielle and Carrie are recording their journey to independent publishing. They host free classes on the blog five to six times a year and encourage readers to participate in the comments section.