Usually, I’m extremely sceptical about the advice that you should “write what you know” for the simple reason that imagination is often more interesting than memories. However, whilst searching for inspiration for a couple of upcoming webcomic updates, I found that my memories actually came in handy (albeit when used in a particular way).
At the time of writing, I was making a webcomic mini series (called “Damania Resolute”) which will appear here at the start of next year. Finding inspiration for it was slightly more challenging than I had expected. Still, I was able to come up with two comic ideas a few hours before writing this article by writing from experience, albeit with a twist.
Unless your comic is explicitly autobiographical or your life is peppered with amusing webcomic-like conversations, then using your experiences as source material for your webcomic can be something of a tricky thing to do. If you just plonk your memories directly into your webcomic, then they will probably seem out of place when compared to the rest of the comic.
However, there’s a very easy way that you can use your memories for inspiration without affecting the tone of your comic. All you have to do is to look at the subject matter of your memories (eg: places, activities, items etc…) and then see how your webcomic characters would react to the same things.
Sometimes, they might react in a similar way to how you did (especially if your own reaction was fairly amusing) but they might also react in totally different ways. If you know your characters well enough, then you can create interestingly different comic ideas by introducing things from your own memories into the comic and seeing how they react to it.
This allows you to use your experiences for inspiration, without making your webcomic seem autobiographical.
To give you an example from my upcoming mini series, one of the things that I remember from growing up in the 1990s was the whole virtual pet craze. I had two of them and, for a while at least, they were really cool. They were like a key ring, a gadget and an interesting little creature all in one. They were the future!
Anyway, instead of making a comic about my own experiences with virtual pets, I wondered what would happen if one of my characters (who is obsessed with the 1990s) found one of her old digital pets…
Not only did this allow me to tap into 1990s nostalgia for inspiration but I also realised that one of the other characters would react to the digital pet in a slightly different way. It took me a few minutes to think carefully about this, but I suddenly found that I had the perfect idea for an ironic joke about technology. It had nothing to do with my original memory, but the initial premise of the comic was inspired by my memory.
So, yes, if you want to use your memories for inspiration in a more creative way than just adding them to your comic, then just ask yourself “How would my characters react to the things from my memories?“.
Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂