How many times have you heard that you should write about what you know? And what do we know most about? Family, of course.
We’ve got quirky aunts and uncles, feisty grandparents, argumentative siblings and overly protective mothers. Maybe. In your family it could be that mom was standoffish, dad was aloof and unconcerned, and that your older sister ran the household.
No matter the formation of our family, it is something that we share in common. Even if we don’t have an uncle who sat a little too close or an aunt who baked the most delicious apple cake, our family is unique and therefor interesting.
It is through our family unit that we figure out where and how we fit in and who we are as a person. This is something that all of us can identify with, and so it becomes fodder for our writing.
If you are intimidated by the prospect of writing about family, then construct memories that are similar but not identical. Change names and appearances. Make someone older while another is younger. The clingy one becomes strong and dominant while the dominant one becomes shy.
Your task is to take a family story and write it. At first keep the details as is. Even the names. The setting is your hometown, the house the one you lived in. The bedroom you shared with a sibling. The fights you had when someone took your toy. Your joys and sadness.
After you have written this story, then sit back and reflect. First of all, what are the easiest things to change? Names, personalities, appearance. Start there.
Next alter the setting so that it takes place in a completely different time and place. When you think of the house, make it an apartment in a high-rise building. Instead of an inner city bungalow with a tiny yard, move it to a sprawling ranch house in the heart of farmland.
If you wrote about your school, change it in physical appearance as well as in perception. If the school was small, make it huge. If the teacher was warm and welcoming, make him a bit of a grouch. Change your best friend to someone with darker/lighter skin, longer/shorter hair, taller/shorter than you.
After you’ve rewritten your story, does it still reflect what actually happened and how it impacted you? Hopefully it does. If not, then what needs to be changed?
Do this over and over until you have a story that resonates.
Have fun with this one.