Thursday, August 5, 2010

Use what you have - writing tip

Many third-person fictional characters are based on real life experiences. Take Pat Conroy for instance. His novels are third person, limited omniscient viewpoint. But they are still (loosely?) based on his own personal experiences. He wrote THE LORDS OF DICIPLINE about being a “cadet” in a private military school. Conroy attended The Citadel in his youth. He wrote THE GREAT SANTINI about a boy’s relationship with his domineering father. Conroy’s own father was quite a force in his life as he has stated on more than one occasion. He wrote THE PRINCE OF TIDES about a Southern Writer whose poet sister attempted suicide. Conroy’s sister, a poet, has attempted suicide several times. He wrote BEACH MUSIC about an expatriate writer who returns to the South in order to care for his mother while she is dying of cancer. Conroy, who lives in Rome Italy, not Rome Georgia, wrote that book during and after the time he spent caring for his mother in her final illness. The only “non-fiction” (purported to be true) book he wrote was THE WATER IS WIDE an account of his career as a schoolteacher on a barrier island, an indictment of the inequality of education for black and isolated children that ultimately cost Conroy his job as an educator. But all his “fiction” still reflects his life experiences. And each fictional work has a different thrust.

Think about the strong influences in your own life when you are looking for writing ideas.

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