The question has haunted us writers for generations subconsciously, but we always think that we do have full control over it all. We choose the world, the characters, the words, how they create a whole universe of imagination for our readers but…
The real answer is, no one chooses what they write.
Like I said in one of our previous blog posts, I used to base my characters on my friends when I was younger, it was easier. Similarly, every author has influences from their background – sure, they get to choose which parts to weave into their words, but a successful author will not be able to write something completely different from their experience because they haven’t been through it. The result would be vague, and imminent to the readers that it’s not, well, I guess the best way to put it is soulful.
The truth is, every author treats their writing like it’s a child (read more at “What it’s like to be an Author”) because they’re writing down a piece of themselves and their history. Writing narratives and poems and scripts aren’t just to entertain and create a world to escape to, it’s to put an experience into a world so other people can learn from it.
Now, you can say that writers do have a choice in what world they create, but that’s more of ‘how’ rather than a ‘what’ they write. One must always remember that the ‘how’ is the vehicle for authors – writers don’t have to stick to the stereotype of narrative, but can instead choose a song, poem, script, whatever they want really.
Something I have always told my friends is that they should learn from other people’s experiences even if they think they can do differently – especially when it comes to dating. Experiences are there as lessons, morals and values are created from them to help other people become better people without the pain of making the mistakes.
Skip to the good parts like you can in a movie, is probably a good metaphor to use.
But, of course, our human nature always tells us that we can do better, or not make the same mistake, but guess what lovelies – you will, don’t try and repeat history, otherwise God knows how many more World Wars we have left.
These experiences are what makes narratives so good – they are put down in an exaggerated way because the reality is that everyone exaggerates anything when they tell a story, and it makes it a little more easy to listen and relate to on a smaller level of self understanding. There are features of characters that people can connect with – throwback to memes and photos of Facebook looking to characterise yourself with a drink, food, activity, word, or person – no matter how exaggerated they are. No one wants to read a character they can immediately connect to as a whole, it’s way too confronting, especially when the author has to go back and reread their work, because then they’ll feel the need to change it as it hits home.
It doesn’t matter how absurd the book may be – could go from ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ all the way to ‘It’, for all I care – it will always express something from the author. I tend to find that I enjoy writing a lot of fight scenes when I’m angry, comedic scenes after I’ve had a good day with my friends, and a lot of erotic scenes when… well, you get the picture.
In the end, experiences are what make us write what we do. It’s our subconscious, not our conscious, that draws others to our narrative, our experiences. That’s why we can only choose how we write, not what we write.