I'm one of those writers who has always wanted to write. Not only have I always wanted to write, I've always wanted to write romance. Since I read my first Sweet Valley High and sighed as Elizabeth and Todd got together, I've been hooked. Then I read my first historical, in middle school, and I'd found true love.
But I always thought I wasn't ready to write a romance. I was in high school. Or I'd only had one major relationship. Even after I'd had a few relationships, they didn't feel like they'd been substantive enough to base a novel on. Then, I got married... then a kid. After I had my first child I realized I was making excuses. Fiction didn't need real life experience. I could take what I saw, what I knew, and lie through the rest.
For the most part, that's proven true. There are, however, times when real life experience has helped me write.
An example. There's a little boy in my current WIP. His name is Gregory. I've got two little boys. I may not know a lot, but I know little boys. (At least my two little boys.) So when I started writing Gregory, I leaned on my knowledge.
Here's a snippet:
"Gregory Richard." She cast him a warning look.
Gregory's mouth snapped shut and he recovered in time. "Excuse me, mother. Good evening, sire." He executed a bow worthy of court. Then, he ruined the entire picture by stepping forward and bending over to get a better look at Cass's wound. "You're bleeding."
Belle was sure he meant to temper his enthusiasm but such glee was hard to contain. "Gregory…"
"Well, he is, Mamma," Gregory informed her.
"I know, sweetheart," she said patiently. "But it's not polite…." She let her voice trail off. It's not polite to what? To point out the obvious? She sighed. "It's just not polite."
Gregory cast her a glance that was pure pity. Then he turned back to Cass. "So, does it hurt much? Because with that much blood, I suspect it stings quite terribly."
"No," Cass told her with a pained smile. "He's right. It is bleeding and it does sting. Quite a bit actually."
"I can't wait to tell Bobby. He's going to be so jealous." Gregory practically squirmed with joy.
"That's enough." Belle gestured toward the door. "It's time for you to find your bed."
"Mamma…." The whine was familiar but at least he'd stopped questioning Cass about his wound.
"Please. I'm exhausted. I'll be up in a little while to kiss you goodnight."
"If you insist." He deflated and trudged out of the room. At the door he turned back, though, and waved at Cass. "Goodnight, sire. I hope you don't die."
So, tell me. Do you think real life experience is needed to write good fiction? Has there ever been a time when real life has helped with your writing?