Sometimes life just sucks. It doesn’t go exactly the way you would write it. No loose ends neatly tied in bows. No happily ever afters.
But hold on! If life doesn’t work out perfectly, then why should your fiction?
In a world full of skeptics and analyzers, would anyone really believe it if your main character got everything they wanted? Would you believe it if it happened in reality? No! We’d all secretly be wondering when the other shoe is going to drop.
Okay, enough with the negativity. When life’s plot gets twisted, how can we as writers use our own personal experiences to navigate our storylines (if not our lives)?
Think of it as therapy without the steep bill. Life getting you down? Many people find journaling to be therapeutic. Now infuse those same thoughts and feelings into your fiction. Give your characters those same emotions you’ve been battling with. They’re human too. Well, unless they’re intergalactic space mutants. But no matter what species your character is, they must possess qualities your reader can identify with. So by using your own desires, pain, hopes, etc, it will result in a more well-rounded, believable character.
You want me to show my deepest, darkest thoughts to the world? Yes. That’s what is so great about fiction. You have a character to hide behind. So let loose and bare your soul to the world through your main character, and no one has to know just how crazy you really are.
Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction
Do your co-workers tend to gravitate toward your cubicle on Monday mornings? Are you one of those people who things just seem to happen to? You know the type. You take your vehicle into a car wash, and yada yada yada, you wake up in Tijuana with no pants (thank you, Seinfeld). You open a retirement fund at the bank, and yada yada yada, you’re now the proud owner of a ferris wheel.
Maybe you’re not one of these people. But I’m sure you’ve met them. You find yourself saying. ‘No way that happened,’ or ‘How do you get yourself into these messes?’ Messes are good. Sometimes crap just happens, and sometimes truth really is stranger than fiction. So whether you’re one of ‘those people’, or you know someone who is, just remember, that anything’s possible so long as you build up the event with believable facts and backstory.
When life gives you crap, be the person who makes it into manure and grows a flower. (That’s my ‘when life gives you lemons’ speech. Sometimes it’s worse than lemons.)
Take Out Your Frustrations
You think your problems are bad? What about your character’s? If they’ve got a better life than you, then you’re obviously not torturing them enough. Make them suffer. Make it really bad. Don’t think it can get any worse? Think again. And after that, if your life is still not looking a little sunnier, then things must be really bad. That therapy bill is looking grim, my friend.
Take the bad things that have happened to you lately and increase them ten-fold. Always ask yourself, ‘How could it be worse?’ Oh, I’m sure things are bad, but they can always always get worse. Now, throw that at your character. How do they react?
This could be your chance to relive some terrible moment or fight you had so that you can do it all differently. Maybe you reacted badly, but you have your character rise above the challenge and show themselves to be a truly higher-functioning person. Or maybe you took it on the chin in real life, but all you wanted to do was smash everything in sight, crash the other person’s car into their house and light it all on fire.
Ahem – therapy, here I come.
Sweet, Sweet Revenge
We are writers. We are the creators of our own worlds. The all-powerful beings that decide the fates of each of our characters. Piss us off, and we can write you into our story and invent the most embarrassing way to immortalize you through our words. We can live out our fantasies by having you die in the worst possible way. Muahahahaha!
Okay, so maybe I’m being a bit childish (I know you are, but what am I?). People we meet in our every day lives leave an impact on us. Some good, some bad. Our experiences in reality will alter the way we write, the way we view the world. And why shouldn’t it? That’s what makes each of our stories fresh and original, and one-hundred percent ours.