Real Life Can Give Us Our Best Material

Have you ever wanted to write an intense fight scene that seemed realistic? Or, maybe, you just want people to emotionally connect with what your character is going through.

There are many ways to attain that vividness that writers want to reach. Most of us have a magnificent knack for storytelling. We can create worlds with wild purple flowers that, at first, seem innocent and beautiful, but later we find that the soft velvet exterior holds death within it’s thorns. Or, the evil woman living down the street, with her menacing grimace and old rotting teeth, after a few craftily written pages, turns out to be a sad depressed lady in need of a friend.

Yes, our imaginations can fill in most gaps and create visions whether we have had these experiences or not. BUT…

You knew there was a “but” coming, didn’t you?

There is also a time when real life experiences can be captured on the page and emotionally reach out, grab your readers, and pull them into your story.

Find those moments and write them down. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t have to flow, but if you can capture the feelings, the movements, the psychological state of being of the experience, this can be a potent tool for your writing.

With that said, I will leave you with a poem I wrote after driving with my daughter today. It was her first time driving on swerving, mountainous roads and I am…well…not the best passenger ever. 🙂

A Mountain Drive

The overwhelming sense of fear

No control

I’m going to die, but that makes no sense

Everything is well in hand

Everything is going according to plan

And yet, at any moment, I know


That our life will spiral out of control.

To the depths of my bones,

Though all evidence shows this is not the case,

My body, my emotions, my tears and sweat

Tell me that I do not have long to live.

Every movement is danger

Every reaction is exaggerated

Both hands on the wheel

Keep your eyes peeled

You don’t know what could happen

Will happen

We’ve arrived

I survived

Nice driving, sweetheart.

Happy Writing!

Copyright Nevin Culley 2013


Norm and Junior Battle

Here is the beginning of a scene from the book I am writing….Hope you like it!

I’m not sure how this happened. I run and leap toward the top of the old brick fence and scramble over just as a shot bursts through the gray concrete, shattering it beneath my hand. Thrown off balance, I fall sprawling on the rough pavement below. Already, blood has been flowing into my eyes from the gash in my head, now I think I just cut through my cheek with the pavement. I turn back toward the fence as I hear Junior jump toward the top and struggle to get a grip. I thought this ploy might help me a little. At eleven years old, Junior is not a tall kid and the height of the fence could provide a couple minutes. It looks like those minutes are reduced to seconds because I look back and he has a handhold on the brick he just shattered. As I see the gleam of the lamplight hit the barrel of his gun, he hooks his elbow over the top of the fence and starts to pull himself over. As soon as he is a little stable, he starts to take aim.

What the hell?  The thought pops into my mind as I hop to my feet and run like death is at my heels, because… really…it is. I still can’t believe this is happening. The family seemed so nice. I thought that, this time, I had found what I was looking for. After years in the system, these guys were supposed to be the storybook ending.

“Norm, you son-of-a-bitch, I’m gonna kill you!” Junior shouts as another shot rings out. I have no idea what he is shooting at because I don’t hear it strike anywhere near me. “This is your fault!”

Maybe he didn’t see where I went. It seems like a wish more than what really happened. I want this to be over. I want to get out of here and find a road and leave this crazy kid and this messed up family behind. I am done with all this shuffling around and never knowing if I’m going to end up beaten, used up or just dead. I’m fourteen! I shouldn’t have to deal with all the crap in my life. I didn’t ask for this! I have had too many…

The sharp metallic twang of lead hitting steel shoots an electrifying jolt up my back. No more time for self-pity. Junior is standing at the top of the fence and is now flailing to keep his balance as the rebound of the shot throws him backward. It is by luck that he doesn’t keep his balance and he lets loose a few very unchild-like words to show that he is not happy. Rage covers his face as he topples back to the other side of the fence; a rage very different from the look of awe and hope that I had seen on his face when I first arrived.


Copyright Nevin Culley 2013

Fallen Heroes


~Photo by ABC News

Fallen Heroes

They are so strong

in their willingness to run toward danger

when the natural response

is to head in the other direction.

We think that their courage

will always keep them standing

between the danger and those who need help.

It is tough to understand

that sometimes our heroes have been lost.

But even when these heroes fall,

they live on in those who take up their battlecry and fight on in their name.

~Nevin Culley

In Memory and Honor of our Fallen Heroes

Copyright Nevin Culley 2013