Add authenticity to your writing by exploiting your experiences. Use what you know and what you’ve gone through as a person.
Nicolas Spark’s books are set in North Carolina. Why? He lives in North Carolina. He’s familiar with the towns and the customs of the south.
Beyond settings, think of embarrassing moments in your life where you simply wanted to disappear or have a do-over. Is there something there that could be used with your main character. You should have no problem defining the moment. You went through it and have all the raw emotions tucked away in your brain somewhere.
We all go through cycles in our life. I’m in the midlife cycle and often wonder if I’ll ever be successful or do anything meaningful in life. What is my purpose? Think about putting your characters in similar situations to your own. It will help you to connect with them and understand their thought process.
What are your weaknesses? How might you plunder them for story fodder? I have to admit, I’m a little OCD. One of the characters in my current novel is a little OCD. I almost feel as if I’m cheating while writing her story line, because I know her so well she’s a breeze to write.
Who do you know? What your family and friends do for work may be a useful benefit as well. My novel is set, at least for a short period, in Afghanistan. I’ve never been and never will go, but my stepson is in the marines and spent six months there. He provided a wealth of information to get me through the one chapter devoted to the area.
Think of sensations. I love the smell of lavender, the feel of silk against my skin, the beauty of a newly fallen snow. I love calming instrumentals and the taste of chocolate lava cake. I hate the smell of rotten eggs, the feel of burlap against my skin, the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard and the taste of raisins (Yes I hate raisins, unless theyre smothered in chocolate, then I like them 🙂 ). Use your own experiences to make your character’s reactions believable.
Something to think about.