I recently started a Masterclass on storytelling with Neil Gaiman as the instructor. His first lesson was on honesty in storytelling. In it, he talks about, among other things, using the experiences you had as a child to create verisimilitude in your fiction.
This lesson is very timely because I recently wrote a fight scene for my WIP–a demon fighting an angel on the wing of an Airbus A320 plane 30,000 feet in the air. Obviously, I’m neither an angel nor a demon (opinions of my ex-husbands notwithstanding) nor have I ever been in a real fight with another human being, much less on the wing of an in-transit plane.
However, I grew up the middle child of seven and I have extensive experience with trying to wrestle my possessions away from other kids (or trying to retain possession of something that absolutely wasn’t mine).
I know, for example, what it feels like to have an older sibling literally force you to pick up something you threw on the ground. They place one hand on the nape of your neck, bend you over until your forehead hits your knees, fold their other hand around your hand and close it around said object, then drag you to the trash can and peel your fingers back to release the object. (Note: Looking back, I now understand why my older sisters were so “mean” when they babysat us.)
I’ve never been in a fist fight. My parents had strict rules about fighting, so we never did anything that left marks. All of these wrestling matches took place upstairs, or when Mom and Dad were away. But these tussles provide me with a gut understanding of what it feels like to be in an actual fight–the anger, fear and frustration of going up against a much stronger opponent, knowing you’re inevitably going to lose, but being too stubborn (read: stupid) to take the easy way out and just comply.
How do you use your life experiences to inform your fiction with realism?