Interviewing the Elderly for Unique Story Ideas & Research

Interviewing the Elderly for Unique Story Ideas and Research

guest post by: Shannon Paley

What the elderly have to offer us in regard to fiction writing is immeasurable for a number of reasons; senior citizens’ musings can be inspirational and stimulate our creativity.  Below are areas in which one might interview the elderly:

  1. Experience.
    Sure, many of us grew up with things that those growing up in the 1920’s, 1930’s, 1940’s did not.  But guess what they have?  Experience.  Many saw significant wars such as World War II and Vietnam (only 2 among many), or at least the effects of them.  They experienced the Great Depression.  They watched technology develop from radios to TVs to computers to cell phones.  They’ve lived under many different presidential terms and experienced monumental elections.  They lived through segregation and desegregation; they may even have heard Martin Luther King Jr.’ s “I Have A Dream” speech as he spoke its words.  They’ve lived through things we’ve only read about in brief summaries in history books.Even if fiction writing isn’t based on actual events or people, great fiction writing is born from experience.  Experience allows you to know how your characters will react to certain situations.  It adds to the authenticity of the scenes and situations you create.  Even though fiction writing isn’t meant to be real, it still needs to be realistic, i.e. logical; and our experiences, as well as the experiences of others, will help our writing be realistic.
  2. Fiction Knowledge.
    The elderly grew up with fables, stories, myths, etc. that we do not know.  Ultimately, whether we know it or not, the stories we grew up on influence what we write.  They determine our views on right and wrong, good and evil, etc.  For instance, I grew up with Disney stories, which shaped the way my generation looks at everything in the world, and ultimately, how we write fiction.  Stories and the like that we don’t know are a great medium for inspiration and character development; and the elderly know stories we do not which offers us a new outlook.  Allowing them to share them with us will improve our writing and creativity.
  3. Creativity.
    Many senior citizens are retired and simply have more time to attend to their imagination.  Think about it; as a child, our minds ran wild.  Part of this was due to our brains not being fully developed.  Another part of this is due to our being care-free.  As we grow into adulthood, responsibilities and worries hinder our imagination; and our imagination is our means to creativity.  Some senior citizens have the time and the means to access their imaginations.  In comparison to children, they also have the attention span to expand on their mind’s creations.  Obviously, I’m not saying to steal a senior citizen’s stories or characters.  What I’m saying is that their creativity can be inspirational to your own.

Have you ever interviewed someone to add depth and details to a fiction story idea?

About the author: Shannon Paley is a guest post and article writer bringing to us her thoughts on what the elderly have to offer fiction writers.  Shannon also writes about nursing home abuse.

1 Comment

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One response to “Interviewing the Elderly for Unique Story Ideas & Research

  1. Nice idea! Our senior citizens are a wealth of knowledge and most are willing to share. . . all we have to do is ask!

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