What Do YOU Think?

I’m interested in getting your thoughts about stuff I see and hear, quotes I read, stuff that passes as knowledge – and starting an authorey conversation.


I really believe we bring our life experiences to our work, and we should do more of it.

I do it, as some of you have seen, but not enough. Many, many times, a passage that really connects with a reader – as told to me by critique partners or a beta reader – was an actual piece of my life lifted up from my heart and put back down on the page. Use your life in your writing. It doesn’t imply you’re no good at making stuff up.

I also think where an author fails to do that, to “go there,” the writing can fall flat.

What are YOUR thoughts on this idea?

Published by Dan Alatorre AUTHOR

International bestselling author Dan Alatorre has 17 titles published in over a dozen languages. From Romance in Poggibonsi to action and adventure in the sci-fi thriller The Navigators, to comedies like Night Of The Colonoscopy: A Horror Story (Sort Of) and the heartwarming and humorous anecdotes about parenting in the popular Savvy Stories series, his knack for surprising audiences and making you laugh or cry - or hang onto the edge of your seat - has been enjoyed by audiences around the world. And you are guaranteed to get a page turner every time. “That’s my style,” Dan says. “Grab you on page one and then send you on a roller coaster ride, regardless of the story or genre.” Readers agree, making his string of #1 bestsellers popular across the globe. He will make you chuckle or shed tears, sometimes on the same page. His novels always contain twists and turns, and his nonfiction will stay in your heart forever. Dan resides in the Tampa area with his wife and daughter. You can find him blogging away almost every day on www.DanAlatorre or watch his hilarious YouTube show every week Writers Off Task With Friends. Dan’s marketing book 25 eBook Marketing Tips You Wish You Knew has been a valuable tool for new authors (it’s free if you subscribe to his newsletter) and his dedication to helping other authors is evident in his helpful blog.

39 thoughts on “What Do YOU Think?

  1. Absolutely! Using your own experiences gives your writing authenticity! Not only that, but as a writer, you have the unique opportunity to relive moments of your life and make them turn out another way.

    Have you ever walked away from a confrontation feeling like you just let the other person walk all over you? Then an hour later, you think of all sorts of brilliant come backs that could’ve just eviscerated the other person, right? Of course.

    When you’re a writer, you can make that happen! (Albeit fictionally and not in real life. But still, it’s pretty satisfying!)

    1. Reliving moments – great point. Not only can you have the outcome be different in the story, you can show whatever lesson was learned. Odds are it’ll hit the reader as hard as it hit you.

    2. Hi Sir Dan. Absolutely. As they say…write what you know. So far all of my writing explores my own life experiences. I look for every opportunity to use these thoughts in my writing. It brings real life to your writing. Your true feelings come to the page and it makes your story more believable.

  2. For sure using personal experience or thoughts helps. The give life to the writing. Reality. It feels more natural. That’s what I think. And people that really know the author probably see that some part of that particular writing is the author in disguise.
    I think everybody is better at maybe reinterpreting themselves, rather that inventing a totally new self, with each writing.
    Interesting question. I find myself trying to hide (maybe?) myself when I write short stories. But as I said, people that really know me, hear me in those stories more that I can think.

  3. What about using real-life acquaintances as inspiration for your characters? Have you ever had one of those acquaintances recognize himself or herself and perhaps take offense? A little risky.

    1. This brings to mind a line I read from the wildly acclaimed author, Anne Lemott, who famously quipped “If someone sees themselves in my story and doesn’t like themselves, then they should have been nicer to me.”

  4. We can only connect to that which we believe is possible. So if someone writes from real life and the reader cannot conceive of the story happening, there will be no connection. However, should the reader believe in fantasy’s reality, then no amount of real life will top that.

    1. If my main character has a fight with his wife, people should not assume I am having a fight with my real life wife.

      It’s a story.

      On the other hand, in order for it to read as realistic, it should be based on experiences.

      The hard part is not to portray ourselves and our friends and our characters in our stories as pure as the driven snow.

      The hard part is to admit the flaws we all carry within us as human beings and portray them adequately on the page. That’s what most writers don’t do and that’s where most writers fail

      1. Also showing the flaws creates more dramatic action. I love a stormy night. I love adversity. It makes a better story. Pure white angelic stuff is for heaven.

    2. And you make a good point about fantasy. Whatever the rules are in the world you set up, those are the rules. So more things are possible in those worlds once we have taught are reader they are.

  5. When we pour ourselves into the story, it becomes real. Reader sense that and connect, even if it’s a tiny thing or moment in the story.
    If we fail to “get real” readers sense that also and yawn so much they don’t finish the book. However, I don’t think that means we must reveal our naked self to the public. After all we are fiction writers. LOL

  6. I believe that as authors our own life experiences and feelings do leak into our writing. I was unaware of this a few years ago until a friend said, “Didn’t that happen to you?”. I think it adds a reality that readers can identify with.

  7. Were it not for drawing from my life, I would never have started writing in the first place. For me, writing is an act of interpretation through story, a way of comparing notes, as it were. Many years ago, I took an acting class in Venice, California. The teacher said something that resonates to this day, “You know, if you think about it, there really aren’t that many different ways to live.” She, of course, was pointing out the similarities we all experience in living, as if to encourage fearlessness in our commonalities, and this is what I keep in mind when I write, and why I prefer writing in the first person. A narrator can depict a certain vantage point with which the reader can connect and therefore compare. If a writer draws from their life, they hold up a mirror. I’ve always liked the idea of this.

  8. Even when I try not to draw from my life, it happens. Every female character of importance I write is on a quest to figure out who she is separate from who the world tells her she must be. It just happens.

  9. I believe that’s one of the best ways to use your heart and soul to write, you connect with writers and readers in a very different way.

  10. I don’t know “everything”, but it’s evident the experiences of an author are going to shape the way they communicate to the readers. And if they don’t it’s going to show, and not in a good light.

  11. I agree with this. It’s also a way to experience things that you haven’t. If you’ve gone through a situation that didn’t resolve correctly. Writing about something similar, with the correct resolution, can be cathartic.

  12. I think you’re absolutely right. Anything that doesn’t come from the heart, or the author’s experience, doesn’t reach out to readers the way the heartfelt stuff does. I think this is because it is harder to describe a place you’ve never been, or an experience you’ve never been through, but when you have, it is much easier to put the reader there. I also think there must be a little of the author’s experience in everything you write, if only on a subconscious level. How could it ever be otherwise?

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