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Rated: E · Other · How-To/Advice · #982033
Abandon the writing software and draw on your real experiences to better your fiction.
You’ve probably seen ads for them in your favorite writing magazine, and maybe even one or two on your favorite writing Web sites, too. They’re writing programs, and they’re the bane of the beginning and intermediate writer. Programs that offer you instant help on putting together new exciting characters, complete with unique features—some going so far as to include pictures to help you visualize your new characters. Plot programs that let you point-and-click together an entire plot as if it was truly as simple as that. Setting programs that give you pre-made places—from buildings to vast plains to exotic alien planets—to help you place your cardboard characters who will eventually be drawn into your point-and-click story.

Characters vs. People
As any experienced writer knows, these programs don’t work well for a variety of reasons, but the crucial thing every writer needs to understand is that the most interesting and thoughtful fiction comes from the real world. A writer’s experiences should directly affect the fiction he/she chooses to write, no matter what genre it is. Great writers draw their characters from people they know, people they’ve met in real life. It doesn’t have to necessarily be an exact copy of someone the writer knows—a great writer can blend the personas of multiple people he/she has met into one truly unique fictional character.

Spend Your Money on Experiences!
The best plots come from the real world. Even in genre fiction, even in something as fantastic as The Lord of the Rings, there are traces of the real world floating in the storyline (and a good bit of Tolkein's story was influenced by World War I, as well!). A great writer will take his or her experiences and blend it with the imagination to create a unique, interesting plot that no computer program could have ever come up with. The biggest pitfall the beginning writer hits is the myth that his/her life isn’t interesting enough to build fiction from. Every human being’s life is unique and interesting in some respect, which is one of the reasons some of the best-selling books of all time are about the simple lives of unique characters in familiar predicaments. Even in the case of genre fiction, a great writer can draw his/her own life experiences, situations, conflicts and love interests.

Visit Interesting Places!
The best settings are right here in the real world. A computer program can give you a great image of a building for you to use in your next corporate corruption story, but it can’t show you the cracks in the west wall that are concealed by a dying fern plant, or the magazine vendor who always sets up shop next inside the lobby of an old building with marble floors. Find your setting in real life and take notes. Find what makes the setting unique. Find the details a computer program can’t give you and you’ve doubled your skills as a writer.

Bottom line: You don't need computer programs. Bring a little notebook with you wherever you go and jot down ideas and descriptions of people, places, and events. Let the real world inspire you and learn to forge connections between your own experiences and the stories you want to tell. It takes time to build this skill, because it doesn't come naturally. But the more you practice, the better you'll get ... and pretty soon, you'll find the world is your muse!

If you're ready to get professional editing help to take your novel to the next step, consider working one-on-one with me! You can find more information at: https://kenbroskyauthor.com/editing-services/
© Copyright 2005 Ken Brosky (grendelguy at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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