Maybe not a NY Times bestseller. Maybe you dream of Pulitzers, Man Bookers, a Nobel in literature. Whatever you consider writer-Nirvana.
Would you kill for it?
That deadly blank page demands courage. Hard work, sacrifices. But—murder?
You’ve heard it repeated ad infinitum: write from your own experience. Write what you know.
If you’re a city dweller, the local zoo the only wildlife you’ve seen, the jungle you create in a story probably won’t pull the reader into its humid and slightly rotting smell as powerfully as, say, one described by someone that grew up in southern India. And this mythical author would never recreate the vibrant diversity of a teeming metropolis like you would.
We write best what we know best.
But—to make a murder scene in your book jump off the page, you—the author—needs to be a murderer?
Yes. That’s exactly what I’m saying.
Put down the knife and come back here. You thought you’d go stick it in someone? Bet you already had someone in mind. That’s so sick. And illegal.
Here. Satisfy your twisted bloodlust instead by brutally annihilating your preconceived notions of—well, anything. Water-board your biases. Hack your limitations to pieces. Use yourself as a guinea pig.
My MCs got into a fight. I’ve never been in one. I’m a wuss girl. I had no clue, and the characters knew it. “We’re not girls,” they said, “or wusses. Get it right or we go somewhere else.”
I changed into old jeans, found a paint-spattered t-shirt, lured Rusty, my forty-pound Rottweiler, out to the yard.
After an hour I did look like I’d been in a fight. Rusty, panting like a rabid predator, hadn’t had that much fun ever.
I aced the fight scene, growls and all.
Do I recommend an unsupervised tussle with a forty-pound dog? Uh, no. Unless you need an irrefutable excuse to jump in the shower. But I do recommend this: do the unexpected. Become an adventure junkie. Expand yourself. Become all eyes, all ears. Let the world be your teacher.
When your head is suffused with experience from the flesh, when the pain you charge your words with is real, that potent muscle you call imagination has a solid foundation to make magic.
That’s the kind of writing that makes people pay attention. Including Pulitzer people.
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This was a guest post by Guilie Castillo-Oriard, who is a 38-year-old Mexican writer currently exiled in the island of Curacao. She misses Mexican food and Mexican “amabilidad”, but the “laissez-faire” attitude and the beauty of the Caribbean is a fair exchange. Plus, the bounty of cultural diversity on the island inspires great culture-clash-based topics that her talent is seldom good enough to bring to fruition.
Guilie is currently in the final revision process of her first novel, Restoring Experience, and working on another spawned during NaNoWriMo 2011. She blogs at Quiet Laughter, and her short stories have appeared in Fiction365 and the newly published Lady Ink Magazine, as well as a few blogs, including an honorable mention in Clarity of Night’s contest this past July, which is when I made her acquaintance. We have been great blog buddies and twitter friends ever since. This is Guilie’s first guest post.