Friday Five: Random Info that Might Possibly, Someday, Be Useful

Write what you know. I’ve talked about that concept before, how I really think part of creating a story that we love writing (and others hopefully love reading) is stretching ourselves beyond what we know. Still, all of us have histories and worlds that we’ve lived in that could, possibly, add a layer of something extra to a WIP, whether that’s one we’re working on now or one we haven’t even got the idea for yet. The thing is, we never know what that is until and if we need it.

I thought it’d be a fun Friday Five to share pieces of my past that might, in some happy time, be the thing that adds that layer–the detail that flows into a setting, adds a quirk to a character, twists a plot, or amps up some dialogue.

And then I want to hear from you. 🙂

1. I know what happens when you step on a bathroom scale holding a dog that tops out just under 100 pounds. Awake. And moving. And I know just how big the window of time is  before you either drop the dog or, with the dog still in your arms, go over backward in a big, big thud. (Luckily, I also know what it feels like to hold a newborn, and I mean newborn, puppy in your hands and rub its belly to get it circulating and wriggling and happening.)

2. I know what an avocado looks like when a possum has been at it. Think vampire.

3. I know what it feels like to drive through Hollywood on your way to the graveyard shift you’re working, and realize the thin girl walking along the sidewalk is not on her way home from ballet class. At 11:30 at night. In a not-so-great neighborhood. Gut punch.

4. I know what it feels like to get way too much sand and salt water in your face, bodysurfing in Mexico. And then be stung by a jellyfish. In the elbow. The one you might, you know, just possibly want to bend, sometime before the end of the day.

5. I know that peacocks, perched on a fence in the rain, are no more attractive or appealing than a bunch of turkeys in the same position. And that you have to be just as careful where you put your feet, when you walk near them.

There. How about you? Don’t take the easy route. Push yourself to think of things that you can actually imagine in a book or an article, that little tidbit that only you know. Or at least that not everybody on the planet knows.  Go ahead–I want to see what you come up with!


  1. Terri Thayer says:

    I know what it feels like to step off an underwater cliff and go straight down into the abyss. And what it feels like to be hauled out of the water by a stranger.


  2. suelder says:

    I know what it is to be utterly, completely wrong when I was sure I was right. And ashamed of it.

    I also know what it is to master a task, after more than a year of struggling to do so. (So sweet!)

    Both of those have made it into my writing 😉


    • beckylevine says:

      Oh, yeah, the pain of that first one.

      Good ones! Glad you’ve been able to weave them into our stories.


  3. I know what it feels like not to have a voice.

    Thanks for this post. Added it to my “recommended reading” for my class!


    • beckylevine says:

      Oh, that’s a big one, Carol. 🙂

      You must have a lot of students in this class–lots of people dropping by. I appreciate the links–I hope they’re liking the posts!


      • Yes, it is a big one and I didn’t realize it was what my character was looking for until I finished my rough draft. and Then, when I responded to your blog yesterday- that was teh first thing that popped into my head! I have 15 students and have set up a wiki for the class. So I load it with their “assignments” which include reading blogs. yours have been a treasure chest full of info!


  4. Susan Taylor Brown says:

    This is a great exercise. I seem to have horses on my mind tonight, five different horses.

    I know what it’s like to finally convince my mom that I should have a horse of my own and then, when it was time to get him in the trailer to go to his new home he wouldn’t go in and I ended up having to lead him 3 miles to the place I was going to board him.

    I know what it’s like to be riding a horse in an unincorporated part of town and be hit by a car, thrown to the ground while my horse was pushed into a barbed wire fence and required 127 stitches.

    I know what it’s like to slide off a runaway pregnant mare (because I forgot to double-check the cinch) but get my foot caught in the stirrup and be drug about half a mile until I finally broke loose, rolling down the side of a muddy hill, getting so much mud in my eyes that, until I got to the hospital, I thought I was blind.

    I know what it’s like to get on the same dang horse, dozens of times and be thrown, from the same dang horse, dozens of times, every time we walked past the patch of bamboo until I finally admitted he was too much horse for me.

    I know what it’s like to watch the old cowboy preacher pull the trigger to put down the first horse I’d ridden in nearly 20 years, and then, how to wait on the fence for the tallow company to come pick her up.


    • beckylevine says:

      Susan, this is just incredibly scary and painful. Yes, good material for your writing, but still so hard that you had to go through it.


  5. Gillian says:

    I know the abject terror of riding a high-speed train through an unknown countryside, where I don’t speak enough of the language, but know enough of the current political sitation (in post-9/11 2002) to feel absolutely cold to my core when the train screeches to a halt and smoke billows from the sides of the train and we have to disembark in the middle of nowhere. The only word I could think to ask was, “Fuego?!” I didn’t know the words for, “Terrorist incident?”

    Fortunately, humans are good and a kind stranger saw the terror in my eyes and calmed me with soft, soothing reassurances. I still didn’t understand the words but the meaning was clear and appreciated!


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