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How to use real life experience in fantasy and sci-fi

Integrating real life experiences into fantasy and sci-fi stories can be difficult because the worlds are so different. How do you put real life experience into a world in which intergalactic space travel or magic exists?

Everything we do in life gives us experience, from the small, mundane moments right through to the life changing moments that only happen to us once. But even if those moments aren't set in a magical land or a galaxy far far away, we can still integrate our own experiences into them.

How to use real life experience in fantasy and sci-fi
How to use real life experience in fantasy and sci-fi

As a soldier, I have had considerable experience of hardship through difficult training exercises and multiple deployments. None of these experiences are exactly replicated in my stories, you will never hear me speak of the exact events that occurred. However, I take the thoughts, emotions and understanding of the physical exertion required for things like combat and use them to craft my worlds. The things my characters go through, the way I describe their journeys, are all rooted in my own experiences, which helps craft believable characters that are relatable even in worlds that are far beyond our own.


We also meet more people in our lives than we could ever hope to remember. Often, I see other writers struggling to craft characters for their worlds, wondering what they are like and what their names will be. This is another thing that we can look to real life experiences to aid us. Granted, you likely have never met an elf in real life, however you probably have met a nature lover who believes in peace and likes to dance in the rain. You likely have never met a dwarf, however you have probably met a gruff bearded man who loves to drink and sing bawdy songs at the local pub. It is to these people, to the experiences you have with them, that you can draw inspiration for fictional characters.

Every day, look to the world around you, look to the things you do, and you will find experiences and people that you can draw on for inspiration.



1 Comment


Thanks, Scott! I like your words on what I call finding the "cariacature" of the people that we encounter. Very good advice. Maybe more examples would be helpful.

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