Composite of Experiences

When I was growing up, we went regularly  to the Griffth Park Observatory, and there’s this tunnel along the way.  If you’ve watched TV shows from the 1980s and before, you’ve seen the tunnel.  It was used any time they used a tunnel, and the round shape is very distinctive.  We always asked my father to honk the horn inside so we could hear it echo (he only did it when no one else was in the tunnel).  The tunnel was a little scary because it was so long, so narrow, and so dark, so honking the horn made it less scary.

I’m revising now the only scenes that survived relatively intact in the book (now over Magic 100).  The basic concept is still the same — it’s a series of action scenes inside a tunnel.  A lot of little things from different experiences come into play, like the tunnel above, but also one time getting stuck in an elevator when the power on the block went off, a sinkhole opening up, and even walking along on a darkening street.

This makes me think about “write what you know,” which is one of the most interpreted pieces of advice out there.  Writers like Ray Bradbury and Robert Heinlein, from the Golden Age of Science Fiction, had never traveled to outer space.  At the time, we hadn’t even gone to the moon yet.  How did they “write what they knew”?  They took elements of their military experience and their science knowledge and used that to create the experience of space travel.  “Write what you know” isn’t a literal thing, but intended to meld experiences together to create what we need.

What I’m reading: Dracula by Bram Stoker.  Though everyone focuses on vampires, Stoker actually has a lot of good, vivid description.