Emma didn’t know what woke her— the excitement of the celebration to come in a few hours or the moonlight streams shimmering through the window, but something had.  Her heart, like an Olympic sprinter’s, drummed against her narrow chest as she brushed her bangs from her eyes.

The chilled night air held a fresh laundered scent and kissed her nose. She curled her fingers into the blanket’s satin edge and tucked the comforter securely under her chin. Soft warmth surrounded Emma, chasing the nip biting her toes.  As the radiator’s last crackle made its last push though the pipes, her sister, Mary’s steady breathing filled their room and lulled her back to dreams of a doll that could walk and talk. Smacking her lips, she could still taste the peppermint candy cane she received from her Sunday school teacher after the Christmas play. She snuggled further into her soft mattress and stared at the twinkling star hanging in the northern twilight just below the frill of the drapes. A moment later, she heard the jingle and recalled it as the sound that had awoken her.

Emma’s brown eyes widened as she studied the shadows of the room.  She held her breath, listening for the tiny bell.

Jangle. Jiggle. Jangle.

She knew what caused the sounds from a story told over and over during this the earliest of winter months and she threw back the covers and jumped from the bed. On this night, it could only be him.  Quickly, she gathered her nightgown into her fists and patted barefooted across cold hardwood floors to the window.

The pane fogged with her breath as she stared down upon the shoveled sidewalk leading to the front door.   Mary and she had spent most of the afternoon building a snowman. Wearing Dad’s old Stetson, Franklin Frosty stood just off the walkway, waving a holiday greeting with a twig of an arm and hand to all who passed by on the country road leading to the village to the east.

Jangle. Jangle.

She jumped, hearing the screen door’s slap below. Her blood rushed through her veins. She knew it. He was here. She wasn’t dreaming.

The door slammed again. On tiptoes, she drew closer to the window again. There . Between the pine branches someone moved.

A flash of light followed a star crossed the sky. The tingling of tiny bells changed to church bells ringing in the distance.

Emma sighed.  Her world had never glistened with such peace.

The above scene probably reminds everyone of a holiday classic, but actually it is based on my recall of a night when I was age eight. Decades later, that night stays fresh in my memory.  I now know it probably wasn’t old Saint Nick visiting our farmhouse but dad who caused the ruckus moving gifts from the summer house to the main house. But still, I’d like to believe otherwise.

Okay, the topic of this blog is writing from your memories. Why do you think recalling a specific moment in time is important?  Did you feel Emma’s emotions? Her startle? Her comfort and feeling of safety?  Her excitement? Her peace?  Did you get a visual on her home? Of her life?

Digging deep into your memories, remembering the emotions you felt during an experience, and recalling the physical responses you had will add power to your words.  Your character’s situation might not be the same as the one you went through, but your visceral responses could be exactly what will take your writing to the next level.

I might never use the entire scene above in one of my works, but sometime or another I will use bits and pieces.  I will have a heroine who anxious awaits her hero. Who will awake and search for him.  I will have a heroine who feels safe in her hero’s arms—one who feels blessed.  I might even have a child come face to face with Old St. Nick and when I do I will go back to that night and remember how my heart raced.

Do you add emotion through memories?

Autumn Jordon is the award-winning author of the Perfect Love Series, a contemporary holiday romance collection set in the fictional town of Black Moose, Vermont where everyone knows everyone’s business and love is always in the air.  Join her newsletter at and receive a free book and many short reads, available only to her subscribers. 


  1. Jennifer Bray-Weber says:

    Absolutely! From my first kiss to the spooky, old, abandoned house I stumbled upon down by the creek, I infuse emotions and vivid memories in my books that suit feelings, setting, and mood.

    Great post and love the memory/example, Autumn.

  2. I too dip into my memory bank to add that bit of realism to my writing. It allows me to immerse my readers in the experience as if they were actually there. Having personal (memory/experience) research readily at hand makes the words flow across the paper with ease.

    Loved your story!

  3. Addison Fox says:

    Autumn – this is a wonderful post!!! And I agree with you completely. While the question I’m asked most – do I write about people I know in my books – people never ask about memories and how they get used in my stories. For the record – I don’t write about people I know – but memories of my own experiences or places I’ve seen – oh those are fair game!!!

    Wishing you a wonderful holiday season!!

  4. Tamara Hogan says:

    Memories are so evocative, aren’t they? They’re tools that are always available, transporting me to a place of emotional and sensory recall that I can use in my writing every single day.

    Beautiful writing! 🙂


Subscribe to the Blog

The Latest Comments

  • Lydia Stevens: I think where I am struggling with this the most is because Atlantis is typically a lost city, a...
  • Lydia Stevens: I wrote mine two ways, one I’ve had stuck in my head for my pitch on Saturday at a conference...
  • Elizabeth Langston: This is so true! Editors are like readers, they have subgenres and tropes they love–and...
  • Darynda Jones: I have an INCREDIBLE developmental editor who looks over my work before I send it to my publisher....
  • Lydia Stevens: Hi Autumn! Thanks for the post. I love my editor. She is amazing. I would also like to point out, it...