I’ve always believed nothing you experience or learn is ever wasted. This is especially true in our writing journey. Maybe you were never very good at sports. Yet participation in PE class taught you the fundamentals. When one of your characters is a jock, you have background material to make him believable. Don’t discard trivial things. Those pieces of trivia can make or break a novel.
Tidbits add depth to novels
During my online critique group, we were going over a fellow-writers fantasy piece. The others pointed out great ideas for improvement. Then I added my two cents, or shall I say pieces of trivia. The author has a bird, a tree and a setting that all represented something. I pulled from my vast knowledge of weird trivial information to help the author clarify what kind of symbolism she may want based on the point each symbol was to represent. Somewhere in my trunk of little cared about facts I drew out tidbits regarding cedar trees and their significance. That clarified things for her.
For writers, details are important. As much as I hate to analyze a piece of pros for symbolism. (That boring task we had to attempt in senior English.) I find as a reader my mind connects those tiny tidbits and subtle symbols to the plot and the characters psyche.
Go, Learn Things
Never underestimate the value of wandering through a museum or attending an ethnic festival. Don’t turn down an opportunity to learn something new. As much as you may hate science or history there are bits of trivia that may seep into your brain and be the cornerstone of a plot line you need. Think docudramas from the History Channel.
We all know grammar skills are important tools. Yet a well-written sentence with incorrect information or boring similes will cause a reader to close your book faster than a cat fleeing the kitchen when bacon grease splatters his fur.
I know many things about dog behavior because of dog groomers in my family. Those factoids helped shape Brutus the dog in my contemporary romance New Duet that releases May 2018. (Shameless promotion.) His behavior is pivotal to the lead characters storyline.
The more you read, the more you know.
Although a recent scientific study claims our brains work at forgetting unimportant information making room for relevant facts. (High School French.) However, we still have a place in the far-recesses of our brain for trivia. Memories glue those bits in our head. In a nanosecond we can recall baseball statistics, variations on a favorite card game or the state capitals we learned in fifth grade. Who remembers how to speak Pig Latin?
And many of these seemingly useless facts that don’t relate to our day job may just find a place in your novel or your critique partner’s.
Share some trivia you used to help shape your story world.