When you choose a subject for your novel or story, it is always autobiographical in part, Sooner or later, almost every writer must get out of his system a story of the end of his own innocence – the day his childhood ended, and he stepped, jumped or was pushed into manhood. It also applies to women writers. Katherine Mansfield, in “The Garden Party”, used this theme so subtly – a young girl’s first step into womanhood, her first venture into a world beyond her blissful childhood, and her first experience with death.

If you plan to use your own experience, you must study yourself, understand your feelings about yourself and establish your own identity. Who are you? How do you look to yourself, to the people who love you, or those who hate you?

While investigating yourself, you may learn that although the end of innocence does not challenge you as story material, some other period in your life is a drama. In everyone’s life, there is surely a turning time, a moment, day or week, that has made a difference. This is story material,

The protagonist of Salinger’s “For Esme – with Love and Squalor” is a sergeant in World War II, but the important time for him during all those war years was the time of his friendship with two children – because of the effect on the rest of his life.

When you have selected, modified and arranged the elements of your story, it may not be recognizable, but the drama will have been born out of one of those significant times.

Do some writing exercises. The scene is the visitor’s room in a mental hospital, where two sisters are talking. At the end of the visit, the sister whose conversations seemed unintelligent and without meaning, is seen to be the visitor, not the patient.

Here’s another one. A prostitute passes a garden where a small blind boy is playing. She knows he is her son. Could you develop this story without sentimentality?

Almost everyone you know has a story. Think of five people you know – do they suggest stories to you?

Happy writing. I am here to help you (free) with any writing problems. Write to me at My favorite novel of all I have published has just been republished – “Esther” – and is available on Amazon, Kindle or direct from me. I’m always glad to hear from you.


Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s