Write what you know, even if it hurts.

Welcome back to another blog hop, with #OpenBook. Here’s this week’s prompt.

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What’s the worst wound (emotional or physical) one of your characters has ever had to deal with? How did you react to writing the scene?

Normally the adage write what you know doesn’t necessarily apply to Sci-fi. At least not in terms of the setting or even a lot of the details of how people live. When it comes to emotions, that is a different matter.

As I’ve said before, my character Dave Travise is based on me. He’s a cargo ship driver, just one doing it in space instead of on the ocean. A lot of my life can be deduced from reading his story. One thing, in particular, stands out as a straight lift from my life.


In my novel Myra, Dave Travise has to deal with the fact that he sent Myra into danger when he thought he was sending her to safety. The survivor guilt that he feels about the choice he made is based on a real incident from my life. Writing it as part of a story was a way of attempting to make sense of what happened to me.

I know that what I did was done with the best of intentions, that I couldn’t have known the outcome, even so, I can’t help but feel guilt at what transpired because of it. I’ve been told that it’s wrong to blame myself, and on a purely logical level, I know that it is.

BUT, emotionally, it doesn’t matter, I wish I had done things differently on that day, then things would be different now.

Of course, Dave feels the same.

Trying to come to terms with that helped me to see things from Dave’s point of view, and just as I have, he has managed to carry that guilt over the course of the next fifteen years (and several books) of his life. It affects everything he does. From the dent in the panel that he has to rub every time he passes it, to the knowledge that Myra should have been sitting next to him; when in reality he’s alone with just his thoughts and memories.

His quest for closure and absolution is what drives him and, along with mine, makes it possible for me to write a lot of his adventures.

What has surprised me is that in using the facts to embellish the tale, the response of my characters has been different to what I experienced in the reality. Is that because time has allowed me to process what happened differently, or just that the characters see things in another way?

Until next time.

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4 Responses

  1. Daryl Devore

    Wow – what an accidental position to have been put in.

    Really late commenting today – got behind in my times.

    • Richard Dee

      Turning your facts into someone else’s fiction can be cathartic.

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