Tuesday, August 24, 2010

From Reality to Fiction

Hey again folks!
So a few weeks ago I had the opportunity to check off one of my "bucket list" items by learning to scuba dive. Extremely cool and even more fun that I expected it to be... which is saying a lot. In addition to the cert card, experience, and funny looks I got (Just FYI, if you ever want to feel like a super hero, unexpectedly emerge from the depths of a popular swimming location with scuba gear on. The kids--and opposite sex--think it's the greatest thing ever), I got one thing that I hadn't expected: some rocking story ideas.

Who'd have thunk that the first aid/safety section of the textbook would give me ideas for more original underwater dangers (did you know that breathing compressed air at depth can make your lungs explode if you hold your breath while ascending?) or that dive time tables would make for a sneaky twist in events (sidekick has reached his depth time limit for the day, so the protagonist must go alone to face the villain at 90 feet)! I have a whole page of notes with story and plot ideas, just from this one week class.

Looking back, I realize that this has happened a lot in my writing. The most obvious example is my current work-in-progress, The Second, which stemmed from my experiences with historical fencing/re-enactment. I find that the work which has its base in an actual experience tends to be the most vivid, believable, and easy to write.

I'm interested in hearing others' thoughts on this topic. Do you find that your best work is often rooted in an actual experience? Or do you enjoy the challenge of writing something completely from your imagination? Have you ever sought out experiences specifically for your writing? Please share!

Semper ubi sub ubi!


  1. My best writing seems to come from my experiences. I think the last real attempt I made at a fictional story was in 5th grade though, now I just write embellished accounts of real things that have happened to me or those around me, and I'm met with a lot more success. It never occurred to me to try to experience more things just to give me a bigger knowledge base to work from for writing, but it's a good idea. And I'm taking ENG 318 this fall, the FICTION section, so I'm petrified. Thanks for the tips!

    And you're "protagonist must got alone to face the villain at 90 feet!" absolutely cracked me up!

  2. *your. Can't believe I used the wrong one. :(

  3. Hello, I'm a new follower on Google. I got here from the Write Unboxed article you commented on.