How many times have we heard that statement?? “Oh yeah, been there, done that.” Thanks a lot, Master Story Teller, but let us show you our annoyed face. Ready…
We want to live vicariously through others. Anyone that says they don’t is lying. Everyone wants to live vicariously through others. Some are just too lazy to do it themselves, others do not have the means to live as they might, and still others just never get around to it. Life happens.
As a matter of fact, books help people reach those goals of living through wild adventures or killing those zombies that they see in TV. Video games do the same, but books are better. Books don’t run out of batteries.
So, then, how do we, as authors, allow people to have these experiences?
We start with our own.
Stay with us, here. Imagine you are writing a novel, a space epic. Your main character is a mechanic that has to frantically fix some critical piece of machinery or loose all life support aboard the ship. Now, we hear you: I can’t even program my remote!! Potentially not, but you have gone to get your oil changed, have you not? Just because you can’t program your remote doesn’t mean you don’t watch television. Start with what you know, and expand on that. You’ve seen them crawl underneath the belly of your car to drain out all the oil or replace a filter. You’ve probably seen someone take apart an engine on television, especially if you’ve watched any movie ever created that has to do with racing a car; it’s usually part of the filler. Now add a little bit of research, throw in several splashes of imagination and POOF! Suddenly your little space mechanic actually knows what she’s doing and just might save the day.
Let’s try another one.
What about a fantasy this time, with dwarves and elves that fling magic spells at one another. The hero of the story finds himself in a battle with another magic user and is struck by a spell. And, before you go off saying that magic is not real, let us kindly tell you to button it. This is what imagination is for! So, back to your sorcerer and his great nemesis. The nemesis is (currently) better than your sorcerer and proves it by lobbing a sizzling bolt of energy right at your hero’s chest. What might that look like? What might that feel like? Ever stick your finger in a light socket? It tingles a bit, doesn’t it? You’ve probably watched a fireworks display sometime in your life. Magic being flung about like Pop Rocks at a toddler’s birthday party probably looks a lot like fireworks going off in the sky between the two opponents. As a matter of fact, the battle itself probably looks a lot like a pair of toddlers fighting in general – total chaos. If you don’t have toddlers, go to a park and take a look, someone will end up fighting eventually and then there is sand in the face and screaming, and flailing of little arms and legs… It’s a fairly epic production that easily translates to spell-lobbing sorcerers.
The point is that you have been there, and you have done that. Those lifetime experiences are stored inside those precious little curves and twists of the pink matter between your ears just for you. No, you may not be a mechanic and, unless we’ve missed something truly profound, you are certainly no sorcerer, but you have various experiences that can be pieced together that will help your mind equate these things to what you already know. It makes things more relatable for your reader, easier to accept and understand because they, too, have had life experiences that help bring these wild fantasy to life.
Use what you have and, if all else fails, make it up! No one knows what an orb of energy to the chest feels like anyway. Unless you’ve been defibrillated, which we do not recommend.