Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Whose Idea is it Anyway?

Recently I overheard someone say something that sounded like a perfect addition to my W.I.P. and I immediately thought, I'm going to save that for my story. Then another thought struck me, I wonder what percentage of events we read in stories are actually from the author's own imagination, or personal experiences, and how much is snagged from snippets of playdates, dinner conversations or good old-fashioned eavesdropping?

Over the years, I have discovered that the edict, truth really is stranger than fiction, and can provide me with a plethora of tall tales and anecdotes. As I let my thoughts travel down this bunny trail, I imagined that this is only the case when writing traditional fiction, not fantasy or science fiction; and then I stumbled across the story below:

A South Korean woman got quite a mouthful when a semi-cooked squid she was eating reportedly inseminated her mouth. The 63-year-old suffered "severe pain" and a "prickling, foreign-body sensation" in her mouth after taking a bite of the partially-cooked seafood, according to a study published in February in the Journal of Parasitology. The unidentified woman spit the squid out immediately. She took herself to hospital where doctors confirmed the presence of 12 small, white, bug-like organisms which they thought were parasites. However, researchers later ascertained that she had bitten into the squid's sperm bag and the cephalopod had injected its sperm bags into the mucous membranes of her tongue and cheek.

This woman's experience sounds like something that only could come from the imagination of a science fiction writer, yet it is truth, not fiction. Romance novelist Valerie Sherwood says: "Don’t write what you know—what you know may bore you, and thus bore your readers. Write about what interests you—and interests you deeply—and your readers will catch fire at your words.” To that, I'd add, —write what you overhear as well. Why reinvent the wheel if you don't have to?


Kyra Lennon said...

Oh my God, that story is both disgusting and hilarious! (I know, I'm a bad person for laughing!)

Truth is indeed stranger than fiction!

Joy said...

This is a great post! I like that comment about writing what interests you. I think it is true that others catch your excitement when you are enthusiastic about a topic.

Scribbles From Jenn said...

Not a bad person Kyra, just a real and honest one. Strange things do make us laugh!

Scribbles From Jenn said...

Thanks Joy! Enthusiasm is contagious and done well, comes across even on the written page.

Avantika Chitturi said...

Thank you! I agree - we don't have to limit ourselves as writers to what we know, where we grew up, or what we did for a living.

For me, the fun of writing lays in making things up and trying to make them sound believable.

L.G. Keltner said...

Eavesdropping is one of the best tools a writer has. At least, it is for me.

Anyway, I have ulterior motives for dropping in.

I have a couple of awards for you, if you'd like them. Feel free to stop by and pick them up.

nutschell said...

that story was both gross and fascinating! does sound like something from a stephen king novel. Eavesdropping is a great tool. I should do it more often :)

Medeia Sharif said...

Truth is stranger than fiction.

I hear so many interesting things. Eavesdropping can lead to a great story.

What happened with the squid and woman is gross.

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