Where do we get our ideas for writing? We’ve all heard the advice to “write what you know,” but we don’t want to end up with a memoir either – not when we set out to write a novel.
Looking back at the five novels I’ve written, I realized that I often took a germ of an idea or an event or experience from my own life and built it into my books.
The trick is not to write the whole experience, but use it as a jumping off point.
Here is an example. In my book, Reckoning Tide (the sequel to The Wind Weeps), I needed to create an incident that had tension and danger and a resolution.
The characters, Jim and Andrea, are in a remote inlet on the coast of British Columbia. They have taken the skiff from their fishing troller and have gone partway up the river to explore.
Just as my husband (the Captain) and I did many years ago, Jim and Andrea tied the skiff to an upturned tree root and walked along the tidal flats.
I was terrified of grizzlies that might be coming to the river mouth to eat salmon. I should have worried more about getting separated from the skiff by the incoming tide.
The setting in Khutz Inlet is such that all sorts of danger come with its beauty. Rather than tell my own story in the novel, I used what I knew about the place (the sights, the smells, the danger) to create the final chapters of my novel.
Have you used some of your own experiences as a jumping off point for a scene in your novel? If not, why not try it?
If you would like to find out what happened in the real life version, you can visit my blog post about it here. https://wordsfromanneli.com/2015/04/01/cut-off-2/
To see how I have used that experience in my novel, you can read Reckoning Tide. But first, you should read The Wind Weeps (which is free to download). Just click on the book cover images on the left sidebar to download.