Thursday, January 23, 2014

Real Life Inspiration

Debra considers how her current schedule could provide inspiration for a scene in her WIP.

I am knee deep in basketball season. One of my extra responsibilities at school is to be the cheerleading coach. Since the cheerleaders need to be at all of the basketball games, so does the coach.

When I first started coaching almost 20 years ago, I thought I might write a story revolving around basketball. About four months of my life is devoted to it each year, so I would have plenty of personal hands-on experience to draw from. However, over the years, my interest in the sport, and thus the idea, has waned. Don't get me wrong. I really do enjoy coaching. It allows me to spend some time with 'older' kids (junior high age). But the game itself doesn't hold much interest for me. I'll root and cheer along with the best of them for my school, but if asked for a sport of preference, I'd have to go with hockey or football.

Still, since I'm in the thick of things, it seems like a shame to waste all of that good hands-on experience. So, I'm thinking I'll include a basketball scene into my WIP. Nothing that will drag on too long, but enough to use what's right in front of me occupying a good chunk of my time these days.

My hero is a high school teacher, so I'm thinking he can either be the coach or I might have an end-of-the-year seniors vs. teachers type game. The heroine will of course accompany him to this and learn all sorts of fun things about him as he interacts with the students and plays the game. With all of the time I've been spending right next to the court recently, I'll be able to throw in some great authentic details.

I do love writing from personal experience. It allows me to be much more accurate than if I'd just done some research...which really only gives you visuals and words, whereas real-life includes sounds, smells, and even taste. So I've often included 'real' things in fiction stories.

How about you? What types of real-life experiences do you include in your books?

Until next time,

Happy Reading!



  1. Great post, Debra. Writing my post is making me assess how I stress over situational accuracy.

    One of my WIP's is set on a ranch, and I have first-hand experience with all things cows. We had a wonderful horse as a playmate for my daughters and their friends. Way back in the beginning, we used an outhouse, so I know a bit about rustic living.
    I have an idea for a story about an herbalist. I have used herbs to treat many minor--and a few major--wounds and ailments. So I think I could write a believable setting.

  2. I tend to include kids in my stories, and I think I can portray them pretty accurately, based on my own. My family used to go the to racetrack on Thanksgiving weekend and I've included horse racing in one of mine (as well as my great-grandmother's technique for picking a winning horse).

  3. First hand experience of something will always result in more authentic writing. My biggest problem these days is that many of my experiences occurred many years ago, and the world has changed! I realised this when I was writing 'Dream of Paris' where the two main characters were teachers. So much has changed in schools since I was teaching but fortunately I could check out my facts with my daughter.

  4. Right, the trick for using personal experience is to figure out how it works for our stories. And then finding the time to write them!