Of all the things that make a person unique, their personal memories are among the most important. Memories change the way a person sees and experiences the world. Memories can influence a person’s beliefs, and also the choices they make. Adding those personal memories to your stories then, can flavor them in a way that is distinctly yours while also lending an authenticity that can’t be found anywhere else.
The Best lies are based in truth
In fields of work that require an alias or false identity, a common tip is to mix lie with truth. By inserting a piece of truth into the lie, the lie becomes easier to remember. Any relevant experience one has can be drawn upon to make the lie more believable. Depending on your line of work or situation, this ability to sell the story convincingly can save your life.
While you probably won’t be killed if someone doesn’t believe the plot of your novel, taking a similar approach can have bring huge benefits to your writing. Details become more cohesive, and settings can be more accurately described when they’re coming from a real place. Personal memories of growing up in Phoenix for example, would likely allow an author to paint a far more convincing picture of life in a desert setting than someone who grew up in Alaska.
Regardless of how creative you are, mixing in a bit of truth can save you work and make the end result more convincing.
Personal Memories can connect you to a reader
Personal memories are unique and irreplaceable. They not only recall events and places, but also the emotions, sounds, and smells associated with them. Take the following example:
The early morning sky glowed dimly as the first rays of morning light crept out from behind a mountainous horizon. The coming dawn washed the landscape in a steel blue that seemed to pull everything just slightly out of focus, as if in a dream. The air was cool, and almost viscously damp, and within it, the musky aroma of mesquite hung heavily.
In the desert, usually after a rare, early morning rain in summer, the air fills with the aroma of mesquite. It is most noticeable in the fleeting moments before sunrise, and quickly evaporates as the temperature rises. It isn’t something you can see in a video, and it’s rare enough that you’d need to do more than visit to experience it. Weaving such a scene into the setting of a story can have a big impact on its authenticity. The nostalgia prompts more colorful imagery, and the scene itself allows the reader to experience one of my personal memories, even if they don’t realize it.
Think of your favorite scene from a book for example. Think about how it makes you feel. Does it paint a particularly distinct image in your head? Can you almost smell the air, or feel the cold or heat on your skin? If you can, chances are what you’re reading is less fiction and more a window into someone’s memories. The author has not only shared their story with you, but also a bit of their life. I think that makes a better experience for both the reader and the author alike.