Saturday, May 20, 2006

Mining Your Past

I’ve mentioned my column on writing for The Illuminata, that online newsletter specializing in SF, Fantasy and Horror. Well, several of my recent columns have dealt with mining one’s past for story details. I started a journal several years ago--and I wish I’d done it long before--in which I simply tried to write down as many childhood memories as I could. I found the exercise fun, but I’ve also gone back to that journal dozens of times since for tidbits to help me add verisimilitude to stories. Readers need detail in a story to place them firmly in the scenes, but they don’t need a lot of details, just the right details. Those things you remember from your past obviously had the right details for you. Sometimes those are the same images that you want for a story today; sometimes a study of those memories can guide you to the kinds of images that stick around.


Wayne Allen Sallee said...

Hi, Charles. I started my blog as a way of having a catch-all of thoughts instead of my usual commonplace book. I am a fan of saving anything 1959-related, and the best of my writing occurs when I have a setting in the late fifties-early sixties.

Charles Gramlich said...

I tend to like settings at least a bit before the present myself. That's why I set a lot of tales in rural locations, since time moves a little slower there. For example, the sixties didn't hit Arkansas where I'm from until 1974.