In my post on Bringing Truth to Fiction, I talk about writing what you know. You know how people react in specific situations based on personal experience or by talking to those who have experienced it themselves.
I implore you to also use places you have been in your writing. You know those places, have firsthand experience with them, and are familiar with the sights, sounds, and smells. Use it. It's very difficult to write about a place you have never experienced yourself. Sure, you can read about them and learn everything there is to know before you sit down to write, but it's just not the same.
Yassa was hard to write because I have never been to Mongolia. I don't know what it smells or feels like. I used my experiences with similar landscapes to draw on the feelings the characters had while in their environments. While not a perfect approach, it worked. I still wish I'd had on-site experience.
When I write about Louisiana in The Abigale Chronicles, I am able to describe her surroundings perfectly. As I write Player, I am able to describe the surroundings without a second thought. I have been to the places in my books and I have the knowledge to draw on. I believe some of the best writers are well traveled and draw upon their experiences in various places in order to craft compelling stories. Fantasy is the same way because it's all based in some kind of fact.
Things we learn by visiting a place rather that just studying or reading about it:
1. Plant life
2. How people look
3. The feeling of the place
Those are just the tip of the iceberg. We have feelings when we are in an environment that we may not have anywhere else. Think of it like this: You're in a Starbucks and you smell the coffee, feel the coziness, and are waited on by friendly staff. You're in a cafe and you smell the food, feel the era, and may or may not be waited on by a friendly server. Those are very different experiences. If you are writing about a Starbucks and have never been in one, you will likely miss the mark of how a Starbucks feels. People could tell you, sure, but they may leave something out that's important.
We can use our imaginations but they are limited by our experiences. So, get out there and experience things to use in your stories! Your writing will thank you later.
What kind of experiences do you use in your writing?
I know I'm late but I hit inspiration this morning and had to get it out. More news on that one later!
Remember! Yassa is due out June 5, 2012! Keep your eyes open because you do NOT want to miss that story!
Until next time, WRITE ON!!