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writing from experience

Post  Maggie on Sun Mar 06, 2011 10:29 pm

Curious at the answers I'll get.

I have a little thing where I tend to only write things if I can somehow or other relate to / have experienced them kind of deal. For example, I don't write any protags that are more than a year or so older than myself as a rule because I don't know what it's like to be, say, 18. (Unless my MC ended up rather mature)

But then there are some things, like losing someone, that I write about anyway even though I haven't lost anyone in my personal life as of now. Yet somehow I've read enough /seen enough/heard enough to "feel" like I know how to write about that.

How many of you have rules about this or do you at all? Do you write from experience or just write whatever you want?

I'm curious.

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Re: writing from experience

Post  Shahira on Sun Mar 06, 2011 11:35 pm

I like that you have that age rule. Smile I like to write from experience because I feel like it makes the story that much more believable. But just recently I've been trying to write things that I've read enough about so I kind of know how it feels to be in the situation.

I actually wrote about 200 words the other day about something that I have no experience with & wanted to post it in the feedback section to see if it seems credible. Smile
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Re: writing from experience

Post  Maggie on Mon Mar 07, 2011 12:20 am

Oooh, you definitely should. That's a good idea.

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Re: writing from experience

Post  Shahira on Mon Mar 07, 2011 1:03 am

I'm just about to. Smile
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Re: writing from experience

Post  Mayaah on Mon Mar 07, 2011 2:11 am

I'm sure you've heard of, "Write what you know"? Well, even if you haven't, it's a phrase i've heard often, even coming from my teacher. That's what they always say: write what you know. And I agree with it, as it makes sense.
I prefer writing what I know. I prefer writing about places I've visited, about characters who resemble people in real life, about scenarios I've experienced. It's just easier, right? I mean, less research, and you can you really write with confidence, because it's something you know.

But sometimes I like writing things I don't know. In fact, I love writing about things I don't know. If I can't experience them in real life, then I experience them as I write. It's just a new, fun way of exploring right at home. Wink

But there are things I don't like writing about. Sex, for example, is something I think you'd need experience to write about. The romance in my book is light, since I haven't had much romance in my life, and the romance never gets into anything serious. I don't like writing about death, either, as I haven't quite experienced it and I think I'd like to really know how it feels like (not actually dying, aha, just knowing someone who died) to be able to write it properly.

As for age, my characters tend to be older than I am. I find fifteen year olds boring, and we can hardly do anything (such as driving). I prefer to write about 16-18 year olds. But of course, when I reach 16-17, I doubt that I'll keep writing ahead of my age. I feel like I'm going to write YA my whole life.

Okay, wow! Sorry for that long ramble. I think my answer to your question is in there somewhere. xD
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Re: writing from experience

Post  Shahira on Mon Mar 07, 2011 4:19 am

@Maya That's the wonderful thing about writing. You can experience such different emotions & situations just by writing about them. I feel like I've been through SO much because I've written about it lol.

&I think I'm always going to be writing YA as well. I love writing about 17 year olds. Smile 16 is okay too, but 18 just seems too adult-ish? I don't know..lol. But anyways, I agree with a lot that you said. ^^
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Re: writing from experience

Post  Amanda on Mon Mar 07, 2011 6:32 am

Yeah, 'write what you know' is a pretty good guideline, most times. Writing high fantasy, I write what I know, which is the world I've created in my head, with all the rules and history. Smile As for character age, when I was younger, I just did whatever sounded cool, but now I go for at least slightly younger than me(usually between late 17 and late 14), so there's a bit more room to mature. And I keep the romance in the awkward, sometimes flirting, sometimes sounding like an idiot stages, for now, lol. Because that's all I've experienced.

As for things like death, I've been through a family member passing(an uncle), so I can try to relate to that sort of thing. I say 'try' because I'm not a very emotive person, and I tend to write emotive people--it's a lot easier to show rather than tell, with them. For other situations, I put my vivid imagination to work in trying to find the emotion I'd be feeling. I kind of just close my eyes and play the event out in my head, like I'm living it/inside a movie of it, and I take note of how I automatically respond to each situation. And then I multiply that reaction a couple times, since my situation isn't real. Haha, it seems to work for me. Better than asking the voices in my head how they'd respond. Wink
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Re: writing from experience

Post  Maggie on Mon Mar 07, 2011 9:35 am

@Maya I totally agree. Same here with all that. It's a good saying, but then I sometimes try to write what I don't know, too. And me too about the YA thing. My characters are probably always going to stick around that age because YA is my favorite and that's probably what I'll always write. Smile

@Amanda I create my own worlds, too, so I 'write what I know' about them as well. I LOVE worldbuilding! One of my favorite things to do ever is to start out and write a brand new world and their customs and history etc. It's enjoyable for me.



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Re: writing from experience

Post  Amanda on Mon Mar 07, 2011 5:46 pm

World building is the best! I love coming up with all that history and the customs--even if most of it doesn't end up in the book, you know it, and when an author doesn't give away every little detail they've come up with, it gives the world a feeling of depth. I find the development of cultures fascinating, so it's just as fun learning about how existing cultures came about as creating your own. Smile
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Re: writing from experience

Post  Stephen on Mon Mar 07, 2011 5:50 pm

I don't have any rules I just write from any point of vue and the people or objects that are in my writings are of every age and sex. I am very observant so it makes it easier Smile
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Re: writing from experience

Post  Sarah on Mon Mar 07, 2011 6:26 pm

I can write easily for every age, I don't really have a problem with that, and I put my characters in all sorts of situations that I've never been in, but I've never written from a males perspective. Maybe its cause all my stories are more interesting from the girls perspective (the guys in my stories tend to either A: know more than the girl, or are hiding something from her, making her perspective more interesting or B: They have an interesting story, but it doesn't start until halfway through the girls story and shes involved too much in it. Nothing against my male characters personally, especially since they end up being my favorites lol Smile) really though, I don't think I could do the male perspective justice, since I would probably accidentally make him start thinking like a girl lol

@Stephen, that's cool you can write from the POV of both sexes, some of my friends can do that too, I'm always amazed at how well they write from a different genders POV
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Re: writing from experience

Post  Renée on Mon Mar 07, 2011 6:44 pm

I haven't come up with any worlds myself, though I have supplemented Amanda on occasion/a lot. I usually write whatever comes to my head, be it inaccurate or not. Very Happy (For more serious stories, I'll definitely do research, but for now I'm practicing the act of writing, not writing stuff that makes absolute physical sense.)

I'm pretty sure I'll always write in the YA department, since that's what I usually read, but things can change. My characters right now are probably late teens early twenties maturity-wise. Hmm. I never gave them an age…they just kind of popped into my head. It's a quasi-medieval story, so age isn't as important, but still--I should know these things. All of my planned stories are YA, except one, and they're mid-college age.

I made my male character a kind of spy under the cover of a traveling merchant, before I knew anything about economics--I had to rewrite that bit. Smile As for the rest, it takes place with a castle and lords and ladies and feudal systems, so I figure I've read enough historical (and watched enough Merlin) to make it work. Wink They also fall in love, though I've never pursued a relationship. So, I guess I write what I know, what I don't know, and what I vaguely understand.

(The first time I wrote this story, it had a deadline and was supposed to be a short romance, so I ended with my characters becoming king and queen, even though the king was still alive. My explanation? He…retired.)
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Re: writing from experience

Post  Renée on Mon Mar 07, 2011 6:51 pm

Sarah wrote:I can write easily for every age, I don't really have a problem with that, and I put my characters in all sorts of situations that I've never been in, but I've never written from a males perspective. Maybe its cause all my stories are more interesting from the girls perspective (the guys in my stories tend to either A: know more than the girl, or are hiding something from her, making her perspective more interesting or B: They have an interesting story, but it doesn't start until halfway through the girls story and shes involved too much in it. Nothing against my male characters personally, especially since they end up being my favorites lol Smile) really though, I don't think I could do the male perspective justice, since I would probably accidentally make him start thinking like a girl lol
I'm writing from both perspectives, the guy's and the gal's. It's close third person, but not like, knowing their every thought, and I have POV shifts from one to the other. For a girl writing guys, I think the best advice is to not make him a wuss, and to let a guy read it after for an authenticity check. And the guy reading can't be a wuss either. Razz Oh, and to read a lot of guy written guy's perspectives, to get the feel for it.
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Re: writing from experience

Post  Sarah on Mon Mar 07, 2011 6:56 pm

Renee wrote:
Sarah wrote:I can write easily for every age, I don't really have a problem with that, and I put my characters in all sorts of situations that I've never been in, but I've never written from a males perspective. Maybe its cause all my stories are more interesting from the girls perspective (the guys in my stories tend to either A: know more than the girl, or are hiding something from her, making her perspective more interesting or B: They have an interesting story, but it doesn't start until halfway through the girls story and shes involved too much in it. Nothing against my male characters personally, especially since they end up being my favorites lol Smile) really though, I don't think I could do the male perspective justice, since I would probably accidentally make him start thinking like a girl lol
I'm writing from both perspectives, the guy's and the gal's. It's close third person, but not like, knowing their every thought, and I have POV shifts from one to the other. For a girl writing guys, I think the best advice is to not make him a wuss, and to let a guy read it after for an authenticity check. And the guy reading can't be a wuss either. Razz Oh, and to read a lot of guy written guy's perspectives, to get the feel for it.

Thanks for the advise! Very Happy can you recommend any good books where a guy wrote in a guys perspective? I think that would be helpful, maybe after I study some authors works I'll be able to write from a guys POV realistically. Smile
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Re: writing from experience

Post  Sarah on Mon Mar 07, 2011 6:57 pm

Renee wrote:(The first time I wrote this story, it had a deadline and was supposed to be a short romance, so I ended with my characters becoming king and queen, even though the king was still alive. My explanation? He…retired.)

lol, that made me smile cause that is soo something I would do! Very Happy
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Re: writing from experience

Post  Amanda on Mon Mar 07, 2011 7:14 pm

Sarah wrote:Thanks for the advise! Very Happy can you recommend any good books where a guy wrote in a guys perspective? I think that would be helpful, maybe after I study some authors works I'll be able to write from a guys POV realistically. Smile
Ranger's Apprentice and Artemis Fowl are good, though Artemis is a rather unique character. He's still a dude, written by a dude, so that's a start.

I have four close-3rd person perspectives in my book, two guys and two girls. In my first draft of the men, I really only had one of them until the last quarter of the book, and the one that I'd written about through the growing experience of writing my first novel was kind of a colorless blob of caring about the MC and random spurts of emotions whenever I felt like it(very one-dimensional, and sometimes two). And the guy that I added three-quarters in was supposed to be dark and apathetic with hidden mommy and daddy issues, but was basically a slightly more colored whiny/over-emotive blob.

Now that I've rewritten most of the whole thing, I definitely hope they're more realistic, and more manly/man-like. I think the hardest thing in my writing is still making sure to stay masculine in their scenes, and depicting a bromance without sounding like BFF's giggling at a slumber party(it's never THAT bad, but still). I really need to find some non-wuss men who're willing to read my book when it's done. All of the guys I know are nice and all, but they either don't read, or aren't very manly, lol. And I say that in the nicest way possible. Wink
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Re: writing from experience

Post  Sarah on Mon Mar 07, 2011 8:37 pm

Cool, I'll check this books out!

The second idea sounds really interesting, with the hidden mommy and daddy issues. A good idea is to maybe get a girl with a few older brothers to read it, that aren't wusses, cause she'll be able to tell wether it sounds realistic or not too, though having a guy read it is always a first choice Smile It's sounds like it just takes practice, I'll have to try it sometime Smile
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Re: writing from experience

Post  Mayaah on Mon Mar 07, 2011 10:56 pm

Shahira wrote:@Maya That's the wonderful thing about writing. You can experience such different emotions & situations just by writing about them. I feel like I've been through SO much because I've written about it lol.

&I think I'm always going to be writing YA as well. I love writing about 17 year olds. Smile 16 is okay too, but 18 just seems too adult-ish? I don't know..lol. But anyways, I agree with a lot that you said. ^^

I know, right? lol. I feel like I've done a lot also in my short life span because of writing and reading!
xP

Yeah, I don't know why, YA is great, but I feel like I might right some "New Age" (I think that's what they call books aimed at college-aged people?) when I'm older, too. x) But YA all the way, possibly.
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Re: writing from experience

Post  Mayaah on Mon Mar 07, 2011 10:58 pm

Amanda wrote:Yeah, 'write what you know' is a pretty good guideline, most times. Writing high fantasy, I write what I know, which is the world I've created in my head, with all the rules and history. Smile As for character age, when I was younger, I just did whatever sounded cool, but now I go for at least slightly younger than me(usually between late 17 and late 14), so there's a bit more room to mature. And I keep the romance in the awkward, sometimes flirting, sometimes sounding like an idiot stages, for now, lol. Because that's all I've experienced.

As for things like death, I've been through a family member passing(an uncle), so I can try to relate to that sort of thing. I say 'try' because I'm not a very emotive person, and I tend to write emotive people--it's a lot easier to show rather than tell, with them. For other situations, I put my vivid imagination to work in trying to find the emotion I'd be feeling. I kind of just close my eyes and play the event out in my head, like I'm living it/inside a movie of it, and I take note of how I automatically respond to each situation. And then I multiply that reaction a couple times, since my situation isn't real. Haha, it seems to work for me. Better than asking the voices in my head how they'd respond. Wink

Lol, yeah! It's definitely a good idea to put yourself in your character's shoes. xP
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Re: writing from experience

Post  Mayaah on Mon Mar 07, 2011 10:59 pm

Lizzy wrote:@Maya I totally agree. Same here with all that. It's a good saying, but then I sometimes try to write what I don't know, too. And me too about the YA thing. My characters are probably always going to stick around that age because YA is my favorite and that's probably what I'll always write. Smile


Yeah, it is a good saying...but then again, I doubt that authors have really been wizards or fell in love with vampires or stumbled through a wardrobe and ended up in a new world. Aha. xP
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Re: writing from experience

Post  Renée on Tue Mar 08, 2011 5:04 am

Mayaah wrote:Yeah, it is a good saying...but then again, I doubt that authors have really been wizards or fell in love with vampires or stumbled through a wardrobe and ended up in a new world. Aha. xP
Touché. Razz
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