Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I Believe In Writing What You Know

My inspiration comes from real people, real events, and real places I’ve visited. I, like Maureen, try to carry a little pad in my purse and yes, most of my receipts have notes spattered all over the back of them, too. Just the other day, my dear friend Kathy (who is also my next door neighbor) said something that I found hilarious. We were standing in her kitchen when I yelled, “Wait, get me a piece of paper!” It was a great line regarding something that had recently happened to me. I'm definitely working it into my second book. Somehow I already know it will fit perfectly when I get to a certain scene.

I fully believe in the old adage about writing what you know. Once I start writing a character, he or she usually has a hodgepodge of traits taken from my own imagination or something I found particularly delightful about someone I’ve met personally or someone I’ve only heard about. I’m one of these writers who finds the very best humor in real life, so I take a certain situation that has a funny element and build from there.

For instance in my novel, Whistlin’ Dixie In A Nor’easter, I have a character named Jeb Duggar who is the handyman at The Vermont Haus Inn. He only works there on the side, really, because his real job is proprietor of Jeb’s Computer World. He’s a typical Vermonter, a.k.a a woodchuck, who has a burly beard and a big handlebar mustache. (I knew lots of men who could fit that description when I lived in Vermont.) One day here in Franklin, I was driving to work and saw one of those pink Mary Kay cars parked at an apartment complex. I got the idea to have Jeb share one of those cars with his mother, who has her Mary Kay business in big letters on the passenger side door and Jeb’s own business, JCW, painted on the driver’s side. Just the thought of that big ole burly guy driving a rusted-out pink Chevy Chevette, put a smile on my face.

The personalities of the girlfriends in my book are an amalgam of my closest friends. The fun part about that is, we’ve been friends since we were five, and I have a rich bank of memories to weave into all my stories.

On a practical note, when starting a novel, I have made suggestions to myself on note cards. I scratch them out as I go, but almost inevitably the book takes it’s own path once I’ve gotten past the first thirty pages or so. I wish I could boast of a certain method to this literary madness but alas, I’m a bit of a hodgepodge myself, with a jumble of ideas and techniques that propel me towards the finish line.

3 comments:

Maureen Lipinski said...

Once again, our writing styles are synched! My characters are messy conglomerations of people in my life...so much so that I worry they'll go "HEY!" when they read my book!

Love the Mary Kay car thing! Can't WAIT to read the book!

Jillian Cantor said...

Not only am I loving the car but also Jeb's Computer World! Can't wait to meet Jeb -- and the rest of your characters!!

lisapatton said...

thank you Maureen and Jill! And likewise I CAN'T WAIT to read Bump and September Sisters!