Show Yourself in the World of Your Story

You’ve seen history in the making. No matter what year you were born. 

Think of a few historical events you remember happening. If you were alive then, where were you when President Kennedy was shot in 1963? What did you notice change that day, at home, in your town or city, in the wider world? The MacIntosh computer came out in 1984. Did you get one that year? What were your early experiences with computers and what have has changed in your life since they came into popular use? See if you can put some of that into a story you’re writing if it takes place in that time.

I’ll give you an example. Since the early 1980s much has changed with communications in general. Before mobile phones, long phone cords were as good as it got. If I’m writing a scene that takes place at my apartment in San Francisco in 1987, to show myself in that time I might include a phone call where the phone cord is stretched tight to reach a more comfortable seat on the couch. Oh, the many falls that phone took, the cracks in its face! Or I could include a scene that involves discovering an important message on my new answering machine and rewinding the cassette tape in it to hear it again.

Even if you’re writing a story that doesn’t focus on a particular historic incident, consider the culture you lived in at the time of the story and do what you can to show yourself as part of that time and culture.