Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Value of Scars

A little talent is a good thing to have if you want to be a writer. But the only real requirement is the ability to remember every scar. ~Stephen King

Powerful words, and so true. I don't know that we can be good writers, even exceptional writers, if we don't acknowledge the scars we have, the difficulties we've experienced in our lives. Because, even in fiction, we can draw from the scars. We should draw from them. Any loss or heartache or challenges we've faced can be translated into a fictional plot with fictional characters. Of course, the truth inside that fiction is the genuine emotion. That's real. And it comes from remembering those scars.

This idea, of self-examination helping us to be better writers, reminds me of another quote I love: The unexamined life is not worth living. ~Socrates

How can we be good writers if we don't sometimes look back, examine ourselves? We need to be looking inward to see what we believe, to know how we feel. To be as comfortable as possible with who we are, as people, as writers. Ultimately, we have to be honest with ourselves before we attempt honesty in our fiction, or else it will never ring true.


  1. Well said. I often find that I'm 'pulled into a setting' as I write, by the past; a formible friend, that lends me memories to 'copy' for others to read later on. I look for the paralels that seem toi race me to the end of a scene to see who gets there first. Yes, the past is powerful.

  2. Stephen King gives some fantastic advice, love the quote. Writing a story is all about stepping inside someone else's shoes and giving them experiences and emotions. If we, as writers don't take the time to look back at our own experiences (the good and the bad) then how can we realistically pass on the same emotion or experience to the character we're trying to create?

  3. Thanks for the comments, y'all! I agree with everything you both said. I think it's important to connect with our own past so we can truthfully write the emotions of the characters. Nothing's more powerful than drawing on something that was real for YOU. It can't help but be genuine...

  4. Absolutely agree....when we 'feel' the emotions through recalling events in our own lives, that comes through the writing and ultimately touches the reader.