I’m going to dodge Jaleigh’s question for right now. I have an answer for it, but I’m feeling a bit distracted. You see, I’ve been stabbed.
Okay, that’s a bit dramatic. I found out recently that the cute little bump that had popped suddenly into existence under my arm was an abscess. A little infection that gets treated with a sharp blade and fire. The fire in this case being an antibiotic. Not a big deal, but a bit distracting.
Now lets see if I can relate this bit of medical TMI to writing.
I spent most of the procedure (when I wasn’t gritting my teeth) asking the doc about how this sort of things happens, what would happen if it went untreated, and how people deal with this sort of thing when they don’t have scalpels and antibiotics (not nearly as well). Curiosity, and distraction, yes, but this is also a key thing for writing. Taking everything that happens to you, and imagining it happening to different people under vastly different circumstances. To tell stories, you have to somehow empathize, to relate to people going through situations you will never experience.
Everything like this that happens to you gets thought about, played with, exaggerated, blown up, used. If a little thing like this hurts that much a few hours later, lets think about what my knight whose been stabbed with a dirk is going to be feeling once the adrenalin wears off. If they have to be so careful about wound care because of the chance of infection, what’s going to happen to my post-apocalypse survivor who just got all road-rashed when the mutants threw her off that train?
It’s a little silly, trying to relate something so small to big things like that, but what the hell else do I have? I can talk to others about their experiences (and boy, writers can be creepy about that…what was the sound, when the teeth went in?), but nothing is as clear, as immediate, as what happens to you personally.
That’s why they say write what you know.
What they don’t say is that you’ll often need to exaggerate the hell out of what you know.