by Lorna Kerin Beall
Happy Thanksgiving! What are you thankful for? I’m thankful to God for His abundant love and blessings, especially that He sent His Son to be our Savior.
Regarding writing and weaving stories, I wanted to share a little more from what I learned from Suzanne Morgan Williams, the author of, "Bull Rider," at The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators’ Conference I attended recently.
There's an old writing adage, “Write what you know.” But do we really have to stick to what we know or have personally experienced?” The answer is a resounding “No!” I’m sure Ms. Williams has never ridden a bull! (Though I did ride my steer, Cocoa, but he was as gentle as a newborn calf.)
Suzanne explained how we can transfer some of the emotions or knowledge that we gain from different life experiences to the characters in our story. She shared how being around her uncle with Parkinson’s disease enabled her with the characterization of Ben, the brain-injured, partially paralyzed war vet, in her book. Her dear uncle sat there crying when Parkinson’s finally took his voice. Like her uncle, Ben had to struggle to get out a few sometimes-incoherent words. Suzanne also used something that happened to her daughter when describing Ben. When her daughter was in the midst of a divorce she’d blurted out, “Nobody will want me,” and the author was inspired to have Ben cry out, “Nobody will want me.” What makes this so powerful is that it rings true.
Have you experienced something that evoked strong feelings or emotions in you? Draw on those feelings to enrich your story. Your experience provides the emotional content of the story – and more importantly emotional truth. Even if you're writing a genre piece like horror or fantasy, weaving in the emotional truth of a character will elevate that story to a higher level.