Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Power of Memories

Memories have the power to alter our mood, and change our perception.  They can be triggered by a smell, a statement, something you see, or feel.  These can be either positive or negative experiences from our past -heartbreak caused from a severed relationship, the loss of a loved one, a decision we made that set us on a bad path, a time we spent holding a baby, or playing with a puppy, our wedding. 

And the best part about memories is they can be brief even though they're monumental in meaning.  Some memories are vivid while others are hazy and conjure more feelings than images.  But, for you to "file" these moments away, it tells you that particular event impacted you.  These events had a part in shaping who you are today.  You've learned from them.  For example, if someone broke your heart, you're likely less trusting in your next relationship.  If you ate something you enjoyed, you’ll have it again.

So how can we use this in our writing?

Backstory.  Memories give us the perfect springboard to infuse smaller snippets throughout the manuscript.  Our characters had a past before we “met” them.  Flesh them out.

Have our characters be affected when a current event triggers these memories.  Maybe their mood can change.  For example, they were defensive, and suddenly back away from a fight, or maybe the other way around.

What about you?  How have you used memories in your work?