The old adage, especially for emerging fiction writers, was write what you know, meaning what you're familiar with. The thinking was that this approach would tap the writer's strong points from the start and set him or her on a strong foundation. Then we jettisoned that notion. Why should the writer be constrained, we figured, by the familiar? Why not explore new worlds? It is fiction, after all, and there's leeway to create. Then came Angela's Ashes, the memoir by Frank McCourt, and other memoirs, and we returned to the notion of writing the familiar. You could blame the still burgeoning concept on reality TV, but it's more likely due to the sense that truth is not only stranger than fiction, it's more interesting. We instinctually relate to a story that feels real, authentic. Even in fiction, writing what we know of our lives and others' engages us with immediacy and a sense of trust, both apparently still strong attractions.
What are you writing that's based on a real incident in your life?