Writers attempt to create the familiar and unfamiliar daily. If we are true in our creation, our readers will believe in the moment we depict.
Writers attempt to make readers sympathetic. We turn them into partners who can feel what our characters are feeling to such a degree that, however momentarily, they are in the same emotional instant of being as the character we painstakingly created.
In other words, our readers laugh, cry, wince, tremble, and smile just where we want them to as they read. Either the reader never experienced the situation or they have. In either case, they deepen the connection through imagination and through their own personal experience.
With the desire to develop our characters so our readers commiserate and celebrate with them comes the need to grasp the nuances of these unique and often powerful incidents.
There are six main ways writers do this:
- We talk to friends, family and professionals who can provide the needed information
- We research by reading texts, maps, and internet sources, etc.
- We seek the experience
- We keep copious notes about what naturally occurs in our lives
- We observe closely when others go through events around us
- We draw from our imagination, using all of the above to produce something that has yet to be experienced by anyone
- getting married/divorced/widowed
- being burned
- breaking a bone
- being hit by a car
- falling a great height
- sneaking/breaking into a home/business/institution
- lying for the sake of survival
- flying a plane
- grave illness
- flying in space
- crashing a car/plane/motorcycle/boat
- losing a limb
- fighting a monster
- being shot at
- shooting someone
- making a movie
- being abused
- building a house
- crafting a work of art or necessity
- fixing a machine
- programming a computer
- building a computer
- running a country
- taking over a country
- jumping on/off a train
- falling in love
- raising a child
- teaching a skill or knowledge
- running a plant/warehouse, business
- running from an enemy/attacker
- running any complicated machinery
- running a marathon/extreme sports
- climbing a mountain
- dressing a deer/pig/cow/etc. (I don't mean with clothes; however, that might be something a character might have to do, so perhaps that should be on the list)
- cooking a complete meal
- painting a picture
- losing one's mind/memory
- caring for the elderly
- raising a child with a disability
- training a horse/dog/monkey/donkey/etc.
- treating an injury
- designing clothes/interiors/architecture/etc.
- miscarriage of a pregnancy
red - events I acquired information about or observed from family, friends or professionals so I could use it in something I've written
purple - what I have personally experienced and may have used
orange - what I had no experience in but I did use in my writing and augmented through additional research
white - have not needed to know yet
Obviously, the list is incomplete and infinite in potential length.
We writers are busy creating characters who go through believable experiences. If you are a writer, what unusual or challenging experience did you have to craft for your work? If you are a reader, what experience did a character go through that captured an emotional and physical connection from you, that made you respond because it felt that real?