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Old Jobs = New Ideas

Most authors, whether they are famous or not, have held other jobs. Often, they use this previous work experience to inform their writing. To access those experiences to enrich your writing, you might pretend you’re in an interview with a new employer. Recall how many jobs you held before the one you’re in now? What kinds of people did you work with? What types of skills did you use?

Previous Work Experience

During an interview an employer will often ask for previous work experience. Look over an old resume or make a new list of all the places you’ve worked. Go all the way back to your first job; the more jobs you can remember the more places your character can go. Describe those jobs in detail: * What city was the job in? * Was it in an office, a fast food joint or some other work setting? * Did you drive a long way to get to work, take the subway, a bus? Congratulations! You’ve just found three new settings for your novel: a city (or town), a workplace, and a mode of transportation. Now, set the scene!

References

When an employer asks you for references, she is looking for those who supervised you, and colleagues. Look at your list of jobs and try to come up with at least one person that served each role. The awful boss with the comb-over, the friendly woman in the cubicle beside yours with the post-its all over her desk, or the hassled secretary that never glanced up from their computer–this is your cast of background characters! One or two of them may fill out enough to play a larger role in your novel, but for now you can use these “references” to help your story move along.

We all spend so much time at work, doesn’t it make sense to pull some ideas from the people and places around you? Similarly, you can use other places from your past as a source of inspiration. Schools, places of worship, and social organizations can all serve as inspiration and add depth to your writing.

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