Life Coach Magazine

Experience is the Mother of Invention

By Writerinterrupted @writerinterrupt

Experience is the Mother of InventionThe old adage says that necessity is the mother of invention: from the absence or lack of something comes the desire to create an object or concept that can fill the void. But writers create people, places, and entire worlds from our imaginations. And often, our own experiences and the experiences of others influence our writing. In fact, some of the best literature is birthed from the experiences of the author and people she knows. For writers, it’s experience—not necessity—that serves as the mother of invention.

Start with “What if?”
Some writers, particularly younger ones, may find themselves at a life experience deficit. But that doesn’t mean they can’t use the life experience they have to create compelling and exciting stories about how their characters might react in similar but exaggerated experiences they’ve had. Speculating about how people will behave in various situations can inspire a whole host of stories. In fact, much of fiction is built on asking the “What if?” question. Science fiction, thrillers and other genre writers use that question as the foundation on which to build their stories.

Even a subject as seemingly mundane as school can be used to generate ideas: how could a student’s pursuit of an online degree affect his social life? What could happen if he and his study group decided to start an online dating service for students? It’s a rather thin premise but, for the right author, it’s a decent start.

To protect the innocent
Other writers choose to use their own personal experiences to craft stories and worlds that closely resemble their own. But the possibility of upsetting loved ones—or attracting lawsuits—compels writers to make creative changes. Creating characters based on real-life people can make writing easier, but also more intimate: a writer who bases one of his characters on his wife might imbue her with more realistic emotions and reactions.

And mining one’s own personal life can also be useful in illustrating common themes that occur in the lives of their readers. A writer who endured the illness and death of a spouse or a child might write a story in which death, loss and acceptance are major themes; that novel will certainly evoke an emotional response in its readers, but it can also help readers through their own personal trials. The key to good fiction, no matter what the genre, is making an emotional connection with the reader. Many of literature’s most celebrated novels have been used to promote awareness of injustices, to stoke anger, and to illustrate the many common threads that bind people to each other. The connections made in fiction don’t always have to be comfortable, but they should always be genuine.

Writers who create universes from thin air should be commended for their brain power and creativity. For the rest of us, drawing from life experience is a reliable way to write fiction that’s relatable, stimulating and fun.

What life experiences have found their way into your fiction?

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