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Write What You Know

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"You write what you know because—like there's another choice? The trick is to try and know as much as possible."

Many shows, books, movies, and other media that depict a real-world activity (police procedures, military procedures, wilderness survival—hell, even hobbies like playing video games)—often get it totally wrong, with plenty of glaring flaws that anyone who has engaged in that activity could quickly point out. If you're not careful, you might even get Falsely Advertised Accuracy.

Some people avoid this problem by Doing the Research, and some even go so far as to Show Their Work, going out of their way to show off facts that they learned while researching the activity.

But some people don't need to Do the Research, because they already know. It's their life. The story they tell is their former profession. The world they build in the work of fiction is the world they actually grew up in.

This is because some writers write what they know. And if they know their subject well, this puts them in a unique position that gives them an advantage over people who would have to go out of their way to research the subject instead. A police officer who writes novels on the side can depict police procedure and what goes on in the department realistically. Someone who has to research it second-hand might be able to as well, but will still be missing the life experiences that the actual officer would have. Same with any other profession.

A writer who has primarily worked as a professional writer can also do this, but it results in Most Writers Are Writers. (Ever wonder why so many characters in fiction are authors, screenwriters, or journalists? That's why.)

See also Write Who You Know, for when writers grab from their circle of family and acquaintances to create their characters. Can also pop up in Written for My Kids, where an author writes a work specifically with their own child or children in mind.

Note: This is NOT just about people who write about their current interest or hobby, but instead is about whether or not the interest or hobby is depicted very realistically because the author does it for a living or grows up around it, etc. If it is, then it's Write What You Know. If it isn't depicted realistically, then they're no different from any other author. For when the author writes about something because it speaks to them, regardless of how much they know about it, see Author Appeal.

As this trope is often also used (and misused) as a piece of writing advice, it should perhaps be noted that Tropes Are Tools, and that Writing What You Know is not an ironclad rule which automatically guarantees that you will produce superior work over someone lacking that experience. Having first-hand experience of what you're writing about may give you an advantage over someone who does not have the same experience when it comes to research and life experience, but that doesn't automatically mean that you will also possess superior writing skills. Nor does it mean that someone who must rely on second-hand research instead of life experience cannot effectively write a story set in a world that they are unfamiliar with. Finally, it doesn't mean that someone cannot convincingly write, say, a Science Fiction or Fantasy story set in other worlds involving creatures and experiences that are a bit thin on the ground. The idea is that a writer can draw on their own personal experiences to inform their story and give it life and verisimilitude, not that the writer can only write about things that they have direct personal first-hand experience of.

This said, as the page quote suggests, if you don't know about something you intend to write about it's usually a good idea to find out more about it somehow, if only to make sure you avoid any glaring errors.

Compare I Should Write a Book About This, when a character in-story realizes that their experiences might make a good book. Author Avatar is when a writer goes the whole way and writes about a thinly fictionalized version of themselves.

Real Life examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Osamu Tezuka bore a degree in medicine, which becomes evident from time to time, mostly in his Sci-Fi stuff, but most notably in Black Jack (when he's not disregarding it in favor of Rule of Cool that is).
  • Servant × Service is a Work Com surrounding a ward office. Its author Karino Takatsu worked in one before becoming a manga artist.
  • The creepy apartment in Domu: A Child's Dream is based on the one Katsuhiro Otomo once lived in.
  • Delicious in Dungeon is a Medieval European Fantasy except for a Japanese party (or at least their world's equivalent) consisting of a samurai and his retainers. Makes sense that the creator, Ryoko Kui, would want to use some of her own historical tropes in her work as well as foreign ones.
  • Naoko Takeuchi used her experience in working as a miko in a shrine as the basis for the character of Sailor Moon's Rei Hino, a Magical Girl who works as a miko and incorporates Shinto elements into her attacks.
  • Hayao Miyazaki
    • He grew up in his family's aircraft factory (it was owned by his uncle and his father was its manager), so naturally, a lot of his works feature either flying, lovingly depicted sophisticated tech, or both.
    • My Neighbor Totoro is also based on his own childhood as he grew up in the post-war redevelopment of Japan with a chronically ill mother. The protagonists of the film are two sisters whereas he's one of four boys. He felt like it would have been too similar to his own childhood if Satsuki and Mei were boys and kept it to two siblings to save time. His mother had tuberculosis from the time she was very young until she was cured with antibiotics in the mid-1950s and was in and out of the hospital for a good chunk of his and his brothers' childhoods. It's implied but never outright stated that this is also what Mrs. Kusakabe has. Like Mrs. Miyazaki, she survives and gets to come home to her kids.
  • Ruri Miyahara used to work as a freelance writer before she became a manga artist, and she used her experience as the basis for the main character of Misolala, Misono Mugita, who works as a writer in a design company.
  • Masumi Asano is a voice actress who wrote Seiyu's Life!, as story about three young girls in the voice acting industry.
  • Hiromu Arakawa grew up on a dairy farm in Hokkaido. Silver Spoon is set at an agricultural high school in Hokkaido and draws heavily from Arakawa's own experiences growing up on a farm and attending such a school, and her autobiographical manga Noble Farmer is naturally all about farming in Hokkaido as well. While the Elric brothers from Fullmetal Alchemist travel all over the place, it's still worth noting that they're from a small country town.
  • New Game! is about working in the video game industry. The author, Shotaro Tokuno, is a former game developer.
  • Mangakas Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata made Bakuman。, about a pair of mangaka, one the artist and the other the scenarist. The two characters' strength rests in psychological pieces rather than classical shonen...pieces like Death Note for example?
  • Shuukan Shounen Hachi is about a very mediocre aspiring mangaka who dreams of becoming a "protagonist" despite his seeming lack of talent. There are obviously some elements that reflect Masuda Eiji's personal experience, as it took him several years and series to become even remotely successful and create his own distinct style.
  • Makoto Shinkai has said in interviews that he's best at creating based on what he has a personal connection to.
  • Progressive Animation Works is, naturally, an animation studio, and one of their greatest hits is a series about an animation studio.
  • Boys Run the Riot: Akiko Sunada's interview with Keito Gaku reveals that the manga is based on the latter's experiences as a transgender man.
  • BREAK THE BORDER is loosely based on Ayumi's experience being on an all-girls basketball team in school, as well as being a transgender man.
  • Tokyo Revengers, a manga about teenage delinquents, is created by Ken Wakui, who revealed that he's actually a former gang member in an interview, even mentioning that for a month he was expelled from school and worked as the host of a women's bar. Wakui stated that he wanted to portray the delinquents of his youth, with principles and ideals who would only fight other gangs and remained respectful and polite towards civilians.

  • FoxTrot's Bill Amend majored in physics and won a mathematics prize in college. Needless to say, some of the jokes involve advanced mathematics and physics formulae. One of the more recurring high school teachers is for Physics. He is also a Mac user. The iFruit is...something of an iMac crossed with some Magical Computer elements. Earlier computers in the strip had, for what little we saw, a very Mac OS/Macintosh System Software-like operating system.
  • Peter Puck, author of the German comic Rudi, wrote an academic text about punks and got a degree for it. Punks often appear in his comics.
  • Scott Adams has often said that the cubicle experience and corporate behavior in Dilbert come straight from his experiences working at PacBell.
  • One plotline in Swamp Thing involves Liz Tremayne, formerly an Intrepid Reporter and novelist who befriended Swamp Thing and the gang while doing some investigative reporting on the enigmatic creature, becoming a paranoid, dependent, and cloistered shell of her former self as a result of her boyfriend Dennis Barclay using the specter of them supposedly being constantly chased by one of their enemies (who had actually been killed by Swamp Thing in the issue immediately following their initial flight) to gradually make her utterly reliant on him. Alan Moore based this arc on one of his own cousins who went through a similar experience with her husband, and many of the specific details of Liz's plight (wearing sewn-up towels instead of proper new underwear, never immersing herself in a bath for fear of drowning, never plugging in the TV for fear of electrocution) are almost exactly the same as those of the cousin.
  • Tom King used to be a counter-terrorism officer in the CIA, and a lot of his works feature terrorists or espionage. His run on Omega Men re-imagined the team as a group of rebels/terrorists and had political commentary on America's involvement in the War in the Middle East, Sheriff of Babylon is about a sheriff in the Middle East and is also hugely based on King's own experiences, and Strange Adventures (2020) imagines Adam Strange as having retired from superheroics but dealing with the fallout of his controversial past, mirroring the heat King got when he retired to become a writer. Amusingly enough, he was brought on to Grayson partly so he could add authenticity to the spy antics, but King went out of his way to eschew the realism in favor of sillier, pulpy sci-fi antics à la Nick Fury and James Bond because it was a lot more fun to write.
  • Captain America’s creators, Jack Kirby and Joe Simon, both were first-generation Americans who grew up in Depression-era New York City like he did. Cap’s parents were Irish, Kirby’s Ashkenazi Jewish from modern-day Austria, and Simon’s from northern England. They were also both World War II veterans but he was created before they got drafted.

    Fan Works 
  • Green_Phantom_Queen
    • Between My Brother and Me: Mors Omnibus: Mallow's mentioning of different types of Burmese dishes (and being Burmese) is based on the author herself (Who is half-Burmese) currently staying in Myanmar.
  • Rufus T. Serenity
    • Unbreakable Red Silken Thread
      • The Author has said Cody's story about the nightclub outing with his family mentioned in chapter 26 was somewhat based on an unpleasant part of his own life.
      • The Author has also said that the part where Cody made Heather watch Monty Python and the Holy Grail mentioned in chapter 32 was based on a memory where he and his cousin did the same thing, and just like Heather in the story, his cousin laughed at the first gag of the film.
  • Time to Disinfect: The fic's depiction of autism is based on TheOtherRed being autistic themselves, with the author's notes and comments readily admitting that many of Mari's symptoms and habits are based on them projecting their own experience with the condition.

    Films — Animation 
  • In The Iron Giant, there’s a moment where Hogarth is seen filling a Twinkie with whipped cream before eating it. This was something director Brad Bird used to do when he was a kid, calling it a "Turbo Twinkie".
  • Meet the Robinsons director Stephen Anderson is adopted and drew on his own experiences of growing up with that knowledge when developing the character of Lewis. Like Lewis, as a child Anderson wanted to find his biological family when he grew up, but eventually realized it didn't matter because he already had a family.
  • Toy Story 2:
    • John Lasseter, an avid toy collector, based Al's obsession with toys on how he would try to keep his kids from playing with his collection when they visited his office. He realized that it was absurd to not use a toy for exactly what it was made for.
    • Andrew Stanton included the joke about Rex and his video game guide after his son repeatedly made him read similar guides to him in place of bedtime stories.
  • Turning Red: Domee Shi is a member of Canada's sizable Chinese-descended population, and the film is focused on them, just like her short Bao. Moreover, the film as a whole is based on Domee's own childhood experiences, particularly her changing relationship with her mother.
  • Up:
    • Pete Docter was inspired to do a film about an aggressively antisocial character based on his own social anxieties that came with being an artist.
    • Dug's line "I have just met you and I love you" came from Bob Peterson's experiences as a camp councilor, when one of his campers said this to him.
  • Wendell & Wild is about Kat, a troubled young girl who has spent years in juvenile prison who eventually discovers a sinister plot to turn her hometown into a massive private prison that will collaborate with a nearby school to take in other troubled and disenfranchised youth. Henry Selick has said in interviews that his wife's work as an advocate with at-risk youth and special needs kids was what he drew on when approaching topics like the school-to-prison pipeline and Kat's character in general.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Broken Lizard:
    • Some of the gags from Super Troopers are based on events that happened to Broken Lizard such as the college student eating pot and Farva dumping gasoline in the garbage can to get a free hot dog.
    • The running gag in Club Dread about Juan thinking Penelope's name is pronounced "Peen-uh-lope" after reading it off her name tag: One of the members of Broken Lizard attended a screening of Carlito's Way, and when Penelope Ann Miller's name appeared in the credits, another audience member incredulously shouted "Peen-uh-lope? What kind of a name is Peen-uh-lope?"
  • Kevin Smith has stated this as the reason for him becoming a filmmaker. Specifically, Clerks is actually set and shot in the store that Smith worked in. Zack and Miri Make a Porno borrows heavily from his experience making Clerks. Shooting in your workplace after hours, using a hockey stick as a boom mic pole, etc.
  • Martin Scorsese has a writing credit on only a handful of his films, but they happen to be the ones that deal most intimately with Italian American and Catholic culture in New York.
  • Film director Andrea Arnold grew up in a council estate and as a result, often sets her works (Wasp, Red Road, Fish Tank) in council estates.
  • Luc Besson was a former diver whose first wide-release film was The Big Blue, which is about divers.
  • The reason for most of the social commentary in District 9. Director Neil Blomkamp wanted to place aliens in a realistic third-world environment. As it happens, Blomkamp is South African, so he knows the particular kind of Crapsack World that South Africa can be. Yes, most of the stuff in the movie, such as the slum, the cannibalism, the deportation, that's all inspired by actual events.
  • Akira Kurosawa was a descendant of a samurai family on his mother's side, and he was raised on stories of them, including ones that weren't very flattering. This would lead to his creation of Seven Samurai.
  • Dan O'Bannon, writer of Alien, reportedly based the infamous "chestburster" scene on his own experiences with Crohn's disease, which during a bad flare-up made him feel like something was physically clawing its way out of his stomach. Complications of the disease would unfortunately go on to kill him in 2009, at the age of 63.
  • Erich von Stroheim wrote, directed, and starred in Foolish Wives, about a trio of con artists pretending to be White Russian aristocrats. Von Stroheim presumably wasn't a criminal, but he was a fake aristocrat, the son of a Viennese haberdasher. When he emigrated to America he added the aristocratic "von" to his name and made himself out to be an Austrian count.
  • Averted by Pink Flamingos. John Waters got the idea for the film by driving around and looking at trailer parks and wondering about the lives of the people who lived there.
  • White Hunter, Black Heart is a very thinly fictionalized account of author Peter Viertel's (he wrote both the novel and the screenplay) experience on location with John Huston while shooting The African Queen.
  • John Hughes was inspired to write Planes, Trains and Automobiles after an actual flight from New York to Chicago he was on was diverted to Wichita, Kansas, thus taking him five days to get home. In addition, most of his other works were set in Shermer, a fictional suburb of his hometown Chicago.
  • Cuties is about a child of Muslim Senegalese immigrant parents who grew up in France, like director Maïmouna Doucouré herself, and the culture clashes that ensue from that upbringing in modern French society. It was already the subject of her 2015 Short Film Maman(s), though with polygamy as the main focus instead of religious taboos (though the former is present in Cuties).
  • Malcolm McDowell devised the story of O Lucky Man! based on his experiences as a coffee salesman in the north of England.
  • Kevin Grevioux based the script for Underworld (2003) in roughly equal parts on his Master's degree in genetics and his experiences with interracial dating.
  • In Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Kirk and Spock are on a bus where they encounter a punk loudly playing his boombox before Spock nerve-pinches him into unconsciousness when he refuses to turn down his music. According to Leonard Nimoy, this was inspired by an actual incident while visiting New York City, where he saw a punk loudly playing his music while walking in the street, saying afterwards, "[I was struck] by the arrogance of it, the aggressiveness of it, and I thought if I was Spock I'd pinch his brains out!".
  • Guillaume Canet once practiced show jumping (he had to stop at age 18 after an accident caused him a severe injury), and wrote two movies that prominently feature the sport — Tell No One and Jappeloup.
  • India Sweets And Spices: Director and writer Geeta Malik partly based the film on her own experiences growing up Indian-American in Aurora, Colorado.
  • Shiva Baby: Director/screenwriter Emma Seligman, like lead character Danielle, is Jewish and bisexual (who also looks very much like her). It's unknown how much (if any) of the film is based on her own life, but both Danielle's Jewishness and bisexuality are central to the story.
  • Besties: The director of this lesbian romance drama, Marion Desseigne-Ravel, is a lesbian herself, and she wrote the characters after girls she knew growing up in a district similar to the one in Paris where the film takes place.
  • Feed (2017): Troian Bellisario has said the film (whose screenplay she wrote) took inspiration from her own struggle with an eating disorder, and overcoming it.

  • Dame Agatha Christie, the world's most prolific writer of murder mysteries, learned a lot about poisons working as a nurse and pharmacist during World War I. And after her second marriage to archaeologist Max Mallowan in 1930 she wrote several books set in the countries she accompanied him to on expeditions.
  • Melville went on a couple whaling voyages (and wrote books about them - Typee and Omoo) before writing Moby-Dick, which was originally going to be a true account of his adventures, before he decided that making it a narrative tragedy would be more interesting.
  • Beverly Cleary's job as a children's librarian undoubtedly gave her lots of insight into children's lives and thoughts. Additionally, being the mother of boy-girl fraternal twins provided her with both the inspiration and the understanding needed to write Mitch and Amy.
  • Michael Crichton spent years in medical school and then wrote a bunch of books about doctors and medicine, and also created the TV show ER.
  • Robin Cook (not to be confused with the late British Cabinet minister of the same name) is a doctor who writes medical thrillers. Also, since he attended Columbia University and Harvard, it's not uncommon for his novels to be set in New York City or Boston.
  • John Dalmas outfitted his character Curtis Macurdy with the same skills he had (minus the magical ones). Dalmas worked in the forestry service for years and trained with the 82nd airborne right before WWII ended. Curtis actually jumped during the war, and when he wasn't fighting, he was logging or using his combat experience and easygoing personality as a sheriff in Oregon.
  • John Grisham, a lawyer, writes almost nothing but courtroom dramas (there are a few exceptions).
    • A Painted House is an exception, but it fits here as well. The narrator is a young boy growing up on a cotton farm in the American South. Grisham is very familiar with this kind of life because his father was a cotton farmer in Mississippi.
  • The authors Andy McNab and Chris Ryan are both former members of the SAS, who served together on the same disastrous mission behind Iraqi lines during Operation Desert Storm that formed the basis for the memoirs that launched their careers. Both books also turned out to be self-serving, heavily fictionalised and very unflattering about the other. McNab's protagonist in particular is an undisguised Author Avatar.
    • In a similar vein but much less famous, or controversial, RAF Tornado pilot John Nichol co-wrote two non-fiction books about his Gulf War experiences with navigator/WSO John Peters (namely getting shot down, captured, paraded on TV and tortured in a certain prison by the name of Abu Ghraib) before embarking upon a solo career as a writer of thrillers whose protagonist is invariably a male RAF pilot...who always hits it off with a beautiful woman before the end of the story, but he's good enough that nobody really minds.
  • Forensic anthropologist Kathy Reichs writes the original novels, Bones (later used to create the TV series of the same title). One guess what Temperance "Bones" Brennan does for a living.
  • James Marshall, the co-author of Miss Nelson is Missing, claimed in an interview that the character Miss Viola Swamp was largely based on his own second grade teacher, both in appearance and personality. He said he would often tell kids that if they had an unpleasant teacher, then just tell them that they'll grow up to be an author and illustrator and put them in one of their books.
  • Nothing's Fair in Fifth Grade was written by Barthe Declements while she was an elementary school teacher and a school psychologist. The result is one of the most realistic depictions of fifth grade (and under) kids both in AND out of school.
  • Elinor M. Brent-Dyer, the creator of the Chalet School series, was a teacher herself. She actually tried to start up her own school (in Hereford, which became one of the Chalet School's locations), although, unlike its fictional equivalent, the school was unsuccessful in the end. Like Joey, the series's heroine, she also converted to Catholicism.
  • Charles Dickens knew a lot about debtors' prisons — his father had been in one. His experience working as a child while his family struggled to lift themselves out of debt inspired a number of characters and plots detailing the horrific plight of children in poverty.
  • The titular Olga from the novel Olga Dies Dreaming is a wedding planner of Puerto Rican ancestry. Author Xochitl Gonzalez, of Mexican and Puerto Rican ancestry, used to be a wedding planner herself.
  • Joris-Karl Huysmans, the author of A Rebours, wrote a series of novels centered on Durtal, his Author Avatar. Throughout these novels, Durtal would convert to the Catholic faith and become an oblate in L'Oblat. Huysmans himself, who turned away from the Catholic faith when he was a kid, eventually returned to it and spent his last years as a Benedictine oblate.
  • Elizabeth Moon was in the Marine Corps in the late 60s, thus her books are chock full of fairly realistic Military and Warfare Tropes.
  • T. H. White, author of The Once and Future King, had personal experience in falconry.
  • Ian Fleming and David John Moore Cornwall (writing as John le Carré) both had backgrounds in intelligence. Fleming also worked in stockbroking and journalism.
    • Fleming also ate and smoked a lot of what 007 does, which most likely contributed to his early death.
    • Le Carre's ""A Perfect Spy'' was about a spy whose father was a professional conman-just like Le Carre.
  • Australian author Melina Marchetta is an English teacher and sets most of her books in high school.
  • Irini Saviddes teaches English and Drama and her characters spend a great deal of time in drama class.
  • A good number of Stephen King's novels and short stories take place in Maine, feature main characters that are writers, or writers that live in Maine. Some of his works are also set in an industrial laundry ("The Mangler" and the novel Roadwork), a fabric mill ("Graveyard Shift"), or feature teachers as main characters (11/22/63, 'Salem's Lot). All are jobs that King held at some point.
    • And before him you have H. P. Lovecraft. His stories were generally set in New England where he lived and often featured secluded intellectuals as the main characters.
    • Also, King's novels frequently serve as metaphors for alcoholism and poor parenting, two issues he has struggled with his whole life.
    • Annie Wilkes of Misery fame was partly inspired by an encounter King had with a man who claimed to be his number one fan...and later murdered John Lennon.
  • John Ringo used to serve in the military. Most of his main characters either used to serve, or currently serve.
  • Ernest Hemingway kept this as his maxim. He explicitly said his body of work was " book about each thing that I know".
  • When Spider Robinson wrote his first story, The Guy with the Eyes, he didn't want to do any research or try to bluff his way through. So he went through all the things that he had sound personal experience of, and decided to use his knowledge of bars and drinks. He imagined the bar that he'd most like to drink in, gave it a first-person narrator based on himself, and set his tale involving an alien assassin there. Thus began the Callahan's Crosstime Saloon series.
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald based many of his novels on his own life.
  • A lot of Discworld's magic seems akin to theoretical physics. Pratchett also wrote extensively on how prolonged exposure to magic can affect a place or person, the general lesson being that the price of magic is usually never as small as it seems. A lot of this made sense when you realize he used to work as a Press Officer to three nuclear power plants, around the time of the Three Mile Island incident.
  • Mark Twain worked as a riverboat pilot on the Mississippi before he became a writer, and the Mississippi river appears as a setpiece in many of his works, most notably The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Gilded Age, and Life on the Mississippi. In fact, "mark twain" is leadsman's call frequently heard on the river boats ("by the mark, twain" = exactly two fathoms of water).
  • David Langford's novel The Leaky Establishment, a satire on obstructive bureaucracy at the fictional Nuclear Utilisation Technology Centre, was based on his experiences at the Atomic Weapons Establishment.
  • Max Sinister, author of the Chaos Timeline, did CS studies, which greatly helped for the Artificial Intelligence bit.
  • Alastair Reynolds has a PhD in astronomy and worked as an astrophysicist for the European Space Agency for 13 years. His expertise is very apparent in all of his novels and short stories.
  • Andrzej Pilipiuk, Polish fantasy author (known, among other things, for his Jakub Wędrowycz stories) graduated in archaeology, and some of his stories that involve archaeology show true expertise on the subject.
  • Katherine Paterson has said her childhood experiences are the reason children in her stories tend to have Abusive Parents.
  • Robert A. Heinlein grew up in Kansas City, Missouri in the early 1900s. In Time Enough for Love, he sends his archprotagonist Lazarus Long on a Time Travel journey to visit his childhood family in...1917 Kansas City, Missouri. The amount of loving autobiographical historical detail present in these chapters is so thick it practically oozes from the page. Much of his work shows similar details of his life experience, from his long ocean voyages influencing Podkayne of Mars and Friday to his military and military consulting experience influencing countless stories.
  • Dashiell Hammett, author of detective novels such as Red Harvest, The Thin Man and The Maltese Falcon, was a member of the Pinkerton Detective Agency.
  • The Sisterhood Series by Fern Michaels contains some instances of this. The ghost of Barbara appearing to Myra Rutledge is based on the author's claim that her house has a ghost in it. Fern Michaels is not the author's real name, it was taken from an imaginary friend she had as a child. The book Final Justice has a character named Marble Rose explain that she took that name from an imaginary friend she had as a child. The author is a Southern woman and she's not afraid to use that knowledge in this series!
  • Joe Haldeman has been a regular rider on Amtrak between Boston and Florida for about forty years. Parts of several novels were written while en route on those trains. In The Hemingway Hoax, part of the action takes place on...a train from Boston to Miami.
  • Sharon Lee has worked several positions in academia over the years, including administrative aide to a dean. This might help to explain why a number of Liaden Universe stories are set at colleges or schools of one kind or another, and why those settings all feel so authentic.
  • Isaac Asimov was a respected chemist in addition to being a writer, and knowledgeable about many other fields. Those who pay attention to the scientific aspects of his books will find them to be surprisingly accurate. Unless Science Has Marched On on some of his subjects, which is always a threat when one tries to write as scientifically accurate as possible.
  • Andrew Vachss, child protection consultant and attorney whose defends children and adolescents exclusively, authored the Burke novels in part to vent his frustration at the flaws he saw in a system that allows children to be abused and abandoned while abusers are often unpunished. The theme of child abuse is prominent in most of his novels.
    • This includes that one time he wrote a Batman novel and comic book, subtly titled The Ultimate Evil.
  • Orson Scott Card:
    • In the Enderverse in particular...why are the Wiggins from Greensboro, NC of all places? And why are the Lusitanians Brazilian? And why does so much of the Ender's Shadow trilogy take place around Riberao Preto, Brazil? Card lives in Greensboro, and did his Mormon mission in Brazil.
    • And a really glaring one, in Shadow of the Hegemon: Peter and his parents take Bean and Carlotta to Leblon, a real-life Brazilian restaurant in Greensboro that Card often raves about in his review columns. Apparently, he thinks it's so good that it'll survive about a century of the Formic wars and chaos and still exist in essentially the same form!
    • Also a weird aside in Hidden Empire: While justified by the 20 Minutes into the Future setting, there's really no reason for Cessy to have a prolonged discussion about the family's editions of the Ticket to Ride board game. But Card's a fan.
  • Larry Correia is an accountant, though he used to sell firearms at one point. The protagonist of Monster Hunter International is an accountant and all of his books describe firearms the way that Tolkien described trees.
    • Toned down slightly in The Grimnoir Chronicles, though John Moses Browning serves as the organization's Q and one of the side characters is an accountant.
  • Peter Beresford Ellis is a professional historian of Dark Ages Irish history; his Sister Fidelma series is set in seventh-century Ireland, and many stories focus on particular aspects of period law, religion, and society.
  • George MacDonald Fraser's McAuslan stories are a very lightly fictionalized retelling of his post-WWII service in the Gordon Highlanders.
  • Robert Jordan, author of The Wheel of Time series up until his death, was once asked at a convention panel, along with several other writers, what influenced how they wrote combat scenes in their books. Because he had served in The Vietnam War, his response was that he knew what it was like to kill someone, and what it was like to kill a lot of people, and how that changed a person and how they viewed not just fighting, but themselves, afterward.
  • L. M. Montgomery is famous for her vivid descriptions of Prince Edward Island in works like Anne of Green Gables and Emily of New Moon. Montgomery was born in PEI and spent a great deal of her life there. Also, Anne works as a schoolteacher in Anne of Avonlea; Montgomery was a teacher for several years.
  • The Tolkien family are clearly believers in this adage. J. R. R. Tolkien was an expert on languages and Northern mythology and so he wrote languages and mythos. His great-grandson Simon is a barrister, and he writes crime novels.
    • The battles in J.R.R.'s stories were based on his experiences in World War One.
  • Brian Jacques who wrote the Redwall Series, as a youth became a sailor and traveled the world going on all sorts of adventures, many of the character types, were based on people he knew. The Hares were based on RAF pilots. The moles were based on a pair of old men he asked for directions once, the searats were based on the sailors he knew, many characters such as Constance and Mariel were based on family members, even Gonff is an Author Avatar of when he was a kid. The reason the food in the books is so mouthwateringly descriptive is because he grew up during the war, in which food was rationed, he would read novels and be disappointed that when characters have meals, they were never described, he wanted to know what they tasted like, how it looked... etc.
  • Dick Francis, after retiring from being a jockey, started writing thrillers set in the UK horse racing world. Over time the scope of his work widened to include related areas such as horse breeding and horse transportation and eventually completely unrelated areas such as glass blowing and art. The book still must include at least mention of a horse, and sometimes horses start the plot.
  • Dorothy L. Sayers worked for an advertising agency for several years, to the great benefit of Murder Must Advertise.
  • Ira T. Berkowitz, the author of A Wolf in the Soul, lives in the Har Nof neighborhood of Jerusalem, so its geography is very accurately depicted. Even the jackals that can be heard from the forest at night actually exist.
  • Tawni O'Dell writes realistically of towns in and around Pennsylvania's coal mining industry.
  • John Irving sets many of his scenes at Exeter (a boys' prep school in New England) and Vienna, and many of his characters are enthusiasts in squash and wrestling.
  • Stephen Coonts, author of Flight of the Intruder and the subsequent Jake Grafton series of novels, served in the U.S. Navy as an A-6 Intruder pilot in the Vietnam War.
  • David Drake comments in the author's notes of one of the RCN novels that he started writing his first series, Hammer's Slammers (Private Military Contractors who specialize in Hover Tanks), as a way of dealing with his Vietnam War experiences (he was an Army interrogator attached to the 11th Armored Cavalry).
  • Poet John Gillespie Magee Jr. was a Spitfire pilot in the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II. His best-known poem, "High Flight", is about the exhilaration of flying a Spitfire.
  • The title character of the Mervyn Stone mysteries is the former producer of cult sf series Vixens From the Void, who finds himself solving murders at a convention, a DVD commentary recording, a spin-off audio drama, and the inevitable relaunch. Author Nev Fountaine is a Doctor Who fan and Doctor Who Expanded Universe writer. Vixens isn't very much like Doctor Who, but the behind-the-scenes stuff is very familiar.
  • C. S. Lewis cast made villains in The Space Trilogy university professors and faculty, in his words, "not, of course, because I think Fellows of Colleges more likely to be thus corrupted than anyone else, but because my own is the only profession I know well enough to write about."
  • Jaroslav Hašek served as a conscript Austro-Hungarian soldier in World War I, and his sole unfinished novel, The Good Soldier Švejk, naturally features the titular Czech soldier during the WWI, complete with an Author Avatar in Volunteer Marek.
    • Hašek actually wrote much more than Švejk, but as he was primarily a journalist before the war, most of his literary output outside of the novel consists of short stories and newspaper articles — also mainly about the things he knew or did.
  • Certain Slovak writer only known as Dominik Dán writes incredibly authentic crime investigation novels - so much in fact, that he has to put a disclaimer at the beginning of every book as the events match the real outcome too well. Not only that. Every method the police department uses feels frighteningly authentic, including prevalent bureaucracy and political corruption and how nearly all the big fish get away with committing atrocities scot-free. Hell, even the casual dialogues feel like you're talking to real people. It has certainly something to do with the fact, that Dominik Dán is a former police inspector/crime scene investigator.
  • James B. Garfield became blind later in life and had a guide dog named Coral. This experience gave him the idea to write the children's book Follow My Leader, about a boy named Jimmy who loses his sight in an accident and learns to navigate the world with the help of a guide dog named Leader.
  • Freeman Wills Crofts was a civil engineer working on the railway in Northern Ireland. He made full use of his knowledge when writing Death on the Way, which is set on a railway construction site.
  • Boring Girls contains a detailed account of the leads' metal band touring, clearly informed by author Sara Taylor's career as lead singer of The Birthday Massacre.
  • Like her heroine Laura, the book's author Vera Caspary also began her professional career as a stenographer in an advertising agency.
  • Xandri Corelel: Kaia Sønderby is an autistic bisexual, like Xandri.
  • Goosebumps author R. L. Stine wrote the iconic "The Haunted Mask" based on a time when his son was little and put on a rubber Frankenstein mask, then couldn't get it off.
  • Miracle Creek: Angie Kim moved from Seoul to Baltimore as a preteen and based many of Mary Yoo's experiences on her own. In fact, after Kim's mother read the book, she called her to apologize because she recognized herself in Young. Also, Kim took her son to HBOT when he was four for neurological deafness in one ear and gastrointestinal problems that turned out to be caused by celiac disease; the chamber they used was a submarine-like tank painted aquamarine, just like the one in the book.
  • These Words Are True and Faithful: According to interviews, Eugene Galt has participated in the gay male BDSM community, and his religious background (although he now identifies as an atheist) is a mix of Catholic and independent fundamental Baptist. The novel draws heavily on both of these aspects of his life.
  • Many of Tomie dePaola's books describe incidents in his own life, though he changed the names in some of them:
    • The Art Lesson describes how he acquired his passion for art.
    • Tom is a recollection of Tomie's relationship with his maternal grandfather, Tom Downey, while Now One Foot, Now the Other describes how he helped him recover his faculties after suffering a stroke.
    • In Oliver Button is a Sissy, dePaola recounts the bullying he experienced for his interests in art and dancing.
    • Nana Upstairs & Nana Downstairs serves as a tribute to dePaola's maternal grandmother and great-grandmother.
    • Tomie recounts the start of his relationship with his sister Maureen in The Baby Sister.
    • The 26 Fairmount Avenue series compiles the stories from the above titles along with other incidents from Tomie's life that he hadn't written about before (e.g., his years in dancing school, the impact of the war on his family, and, briefly, the deterioration of his relationship with his brother, Joseph (nicknamed "Buddy")).
  • Robert Peston is a secular Jewish journalist who was political editor of the Financial Times in the nineties. His first novel, The Whistleblower, is set in the nineties and stars the secular Jewish political editor of the Financial Chronicle. He denies that Gilbert Peck is a complete Author Avatar; Peck supports Spurs and Peston is an Arsenal fan.
  • The Underdogs series features a group of teens from a special school. The author, Chris Bonnello, is autistic and works in special ed.
  • Sonny Barger was the president of the Oakland charter of the Hells Angels motorcycle club, and as such, the books he wrote and/or co-authored during his later years were drawn from his experiences as an outlaw biker.
  • The Railway Series author Rev. Awdry was always a Rail Enthusiast and tried to keep his stories of talking trains grounded. But his discovery on a family vacation of the recently preserved Talyllyn Railway gave him new hands-on experience, as he soon rushed to return to the railway as a volunteer guard (his son, daughter-in-law, and grandson would all also volunteer there with time). He created a group of expy characters for the Talyllyn known as the "Skarloey Railway" and wholesale adapted events of real Talyllyn history for his book series, including an incident where on guard duty he caused a train to depart early and abandon the railway's "Refreshment Lady" on the platform. The Skarloey stories proved to be an impressive Shown Their Work addition to the Railway Series canon.
  • Sorry, Bro: Taleen Voskuni is an Armenian-American like the protagonist Nareh, while the story delves heavily into the community in California where she's from, and Armenian culture overall.
  • The Witches:
    • The hero's parents die at the beginning of the story, leaving him to be brought up by his grandmother, with the parents' wish that he is educated in England. Roald Dahl's own father died when Dahl was young, with the wish that he was educated in England, saying that English schools are the best in the world.
    • The idea of witches wearing wigs to hide their baldness, and having no toes may have been inspired by two of Dahl's fellow passengers on his two-week sea voyage to Africa, as described in his autobiography Going Solo: the elderly Miss Trefuis hated the sight of toes so much that she could not bear to cut her own toenails, and she made all the native boys on her farm wear shoes. Dahl's cabin companion U. N. Savory went to great lengths to hide his baldness, wearing wigs of different lengths every week, and sprinkling Epsom Salts on his shoulders to make out he had dandruff.
    • The grandmother lovingly describes summer holidays in Norway, which were a staple of Dahl's own childhood.
  • A small part of Our Wives Under the Sea, where Miri comes across the "Our Husbands In Space" forum, was inspired by a real-life experience by Julia Armfield, as detailed in this interview.
    When I was having surgery in November, and I remember my girlfriend was looking for something about it on the National Health Service. She found this resource that was basically for husbands being like, ‘When your wife goes through this, she might not want to do this and this.’ The way it was worded, like, ‘If your female wife doesn’t want to do this…’ This still happens! It was mainly levity. To a certain point, it was heteronormativity.
  • Greg Egan has a B.S. degree in mathematics. Most of his novels involve advanced concepts from mathematics and theoretical physics (for instance, Schild's Ladder is a concept from differential geometry), and are often set in alternative universes with different fundamental laws of physics (and all descriptions of these alternative universes are based on careful mathematical analysis of the results of the changes introduced to the fundamental laws).
  • Nicholas Snelling based his children's book Barebum Billy partly on incidents where his sons walked around naked after taking their baths.
  • Some of the authors of Naked Came the Stranger based Gillian's lovers on their own experiences. An ex-Marine from a Pennsylvania coal-mining town wrote about an ex-Marine from a Pennsylvania coal-mining town, a boxing writer wrote about a boxer, an investigative and gangland reporter wrote about a Mafia chieftain, and a writer with a reputation as the most faithful husband in journalism wrote about a man who couldn't cheat.

    Live-Action TV 
  • After being an actor and head writer for Saturday Night Live, a comedy sketch show, Tina Fey created 30 Rock, an NBC Work Com which centers around an NBC comedy sketch show (TGS with Tracy Jordan). Furthermore, besides being creator, head writer, and showrunner of 30 Rock, Fey plays Liz Lemon, who is creator, head writer, and showrunner of TGS. Fey's original plan was to center the show on a News Broadcast until NBC Entertainment president Kevin Reilly suggested she base the show on her own experience.
  • Many of the scenarios from the Bill Engvall Show are based on actual events that he has recounted in his stand-up act.
  • The Brady Bunch: Robert Reed would have likely disagreed many times, but in Sherwood and Lloyd Schwartz's autobiography (and in various other retrospectives of the show as well), they came up with many plotlines for episodes of the iconic show from their own experiences. Two examples:
    • "Eenie, Meenie, Mommy, Daddy" — Sherwood's daughter, then 10-year-old Hope, had a classmate who was upset that the school was limiting admission to one parent to a school presentation (due to the school's small auditorium), because he wanted to invite both his mother and new stepfather, together. When he was developing the series' first Season 1 scripts, Sherwood recalled the incident and gave the problem to Cindy.
    • "The Slumber Caper" — When he was in elementary school, Sherwood scrawled scribblings on a piece of paper and called it "George Washington." A classmate got ahold of the drawing and wrote the name of a teacher he didn't like (along with a very inappropriate remark). Not long thereafter, said teacher saw it ... and yelled at young Sherwood and punished him, despite Sherwood insisting his innocence in that he did not write the remark. The situation was used to frame the episode's initial conflict of Marcia being blamed for insulting a teacher.
  • Television Producer David E. Kelley, creator of Ally McBeal, The Practice, and Boston Legal (all Boston-based lawyer shows) actually has a degree in law from Boston University. Despite that, he engages in severe and frequent use of Hollywood Law (mostly for the sake of drama, it seems).
  • As ludicrous as the events in most Only Fools and Horses episodes are, about 95% of them were based on stuff that had actually happened to the show's creator, John Sullivan, and/or members of his family. Reportedly, he didn't have to start thinking of any truly original storylines until near the end of the show's run.
  • Miranda Hart, the writer and star of Miranda (2009) has said in an interview that the majority of the material comes from her own life, and that there are some incidents (including a very funny one about a train toilet) that she can't include in the show because the audience would think they are too far-fetched.
  • David Simon worked as a journalist in Baltimore, and spent a year embedded with the homicide squad as research for his book Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets. This was adapted into Homicide: Life on the Street, which he also produced, and he later created The Wire, another police show set in Baltimore, which also includes a storyline about newspaper reporters.
  • Ed Burns, the co-creator of The Wire. Much of the backdrop of season 4's criticisms towards the education system was based on Burns' experience as a retired-police-officer-turned-teacher.
  • Brent Butt grew up in small-town Saskatchewan. The show Corner Gas, which he created and stars in, is set in the small town of Dog River. It's even more authentic since it was filmed in Rouleau, Saskatchewan, and featured many locals as extras in it.
  • Donald P. Bellisario served in the Marines and has created military-themed shows like JAG and NCIS. Even shows not about the military featured a main character with a military background, like in Magnum, P.I. and Quantum Leap.
  • Jeremy Lloyd had a stint working in the menswear department at Simpson's of Piccadilly, a now-defunct London department store. The employees he encountered became the inspirations for Are You Being Served?
  • Dr. Ken is loosely based on Ken Jeong's own experiences as a doctor before his Star-Making Role in The Hangover film series. Jeong really is a licensed general practitioner, and his real-life wife and friends are also doctors who occasionally help him fact-check the dialogue.
  • Ozark: Bill Dubuque was inspired to set a show on the Lake of the Ozarks after working there as a deckhand in his youth.
  • Fran Drescher got the idea for The Nanny from her own experience babysitting Twiggy Lawson's daughter. Twiggy and her husband Leigh Lawson appear in the episode "Stop the Wedding, I Want to Get Off" as a nod to this. "Frannie's Choice" ends with Fran Fine on an airplane talking to a CBS executive about her life story, saying it'd make a great sitcom, which parallels how Drescher first proposed the show.
  • Euphoria: Rue's struggle with her drug addiction is transposed from series creator Sam Levinson's own experiences with addiction in his teenage years.
  • Famously, the British comedy Fawlty Towers and the main character who lends the show its name were based on John Cleese and the Monty Python crew's... "colourful" experience staying at the Gleneagles Hotel in Torquay, Devon, England. The proprietor at the time, Donald Sinclair, was a retired naval officer and also happened to be completely rude and completely out of his mind. Mr. Sinclair's irascible antics included: loudly berating Terry Gilliam for his "American" table etiquette, throwing Eric Idle's briefcase over the garden wall because he suspected it contained a bomb, expressing disbelief that Michael Palin had pre-booked the TV to catch a show, and starting a loud argument in the reception with Cleese when he requested a taxi. According to several witnesses (including Sinclair's own children) who came forward after his wife Beatrice complained to the papers about how the show exaggerated her husband's eccentricities, if anything, Cleese had actually downplayed how crazy the man was. Let that sink in.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985):
  • Steven Moffat is a former English teacher. Two of his early shows, the children's dramedy Press Gang and the adult sitcom Chalk, are set in schools, as is a chunk of his Doctor Who run (the period where Clara is teaching at Coal Hill).
  • Speaking of Doctor Who, Chris Chibnall has said a couple of elements in his run are based on his personal experiences: Graham being a cancer survivor was informed by Chibnall having been diagnosed with cancer in his early twenties, along with knowing other people who'd been through the same thing, and the Timeless Child storyline was partly inspired by Chibnall having been adopted, particularly the tension between who you are and where you're from.
  • Ginny and Georgia:
    • Director Anya Adams, lead character Antonia Gentry and show writer Brianna Belser are all biracial women like Ginny. The trio collaborated on giving input to her character on the series. Real quotes were even used from Antonia Gentry's life for things that people say to Ginny.
    • The much-criticized "Oppression Olympics" exchange Ginny and Hunter have is another example. Gentry and Mason Temple (Hunter) largely wrote each other's dialogue as well, based on actual things people have told them.
  • Mohawk Girls: The series creator Tracey Deer is a Mohawk woman from Kanahwake herself, who's also married to a non-resident. Life there, and the prejudice toward outsiders or the residents in relationships with them, are both focused on throughout the series. A protest against outsiders living on the reserve is even at her house, per a very brief online mention in Season 4.
  • Jilly Cooper loosely based It's Awfully Bad for Your Eyes, Darling... on her own experiences living with two girls in a flat.

  • In general this is why there are so many songs about music, traveling, and long-distance relationships, as these are all specific aspects of the life of a professional musician.
  • About 90% of Gangsta Rap falls under this trope, as the overwhelming majority of it is written by people who grew up living the street gangster life in all its misery.
  • After Forever's Concept Album Invisible Circles is based on the abused children that guitarist Sander Gommans met working as an art teacher.
  • The Red Chord's album Clients was based around Guy Kozowyk's experiences with the various psych patients who regularly walked into the convenience store that he used to work at, as said store was located next to a psychiatric hospital.
  • Blue-collar workers are frequently featured in the music of Canadian folk singer David Francey. Francey spent much of his early life working in carpentry and construction.
  • Dave Davidson was inspired by his time working in the morgue of a hospital (where his job mostly entailed moving bodies down to the basement) for the lyrics of "A Debt Owed to the Grave". At face value, it's about the deceased taking their journey with Charon, but it was just as much about his realization that his job description was essentially "ferryman of the dead".
  • Amanda Palmer's song "Mandy Goes To Med School" is a fictionalized retelling of her getting an abortion when she was 17.
  • Merle Haggard's prison songs qualify, given his own stint in prison.
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers have a song about the death of band member Hillel Slovak once an album.
  • Dream Theater have done this often, but the clearest example has to be the Twelve-Step Suite, written about Mike Portnoy's recovery from alcoholism. It consists of five songs and twelve movements; each movement corresponds to one of Alcoholics Anonymous' eponymous twelve steps. The entire suite is dedicated to the group's founder Bill W. "and his friends" (i.e., the other members of the organisation).
  • LFO's "Girl on TV", a song about a man who falls in love with a famous actress, was inspired by the lead singer's Real Life relationship with actress Jennifer Love Hewitt. In case it wasn't obvious enough: Hewitt also appears in the music video.
  • Origami Angel's music contains frequent references to Ryland's time living in the Washington DC area, such as in "My PG County Summer" or "Few and Far Between".

  • Journey into Space: Charles Chilton partly based the radio operator Lemmy Barnet, the crew's radio operator, on himself. He had been an RAF radio operator during World War II.

  • G.I. Joe:
    • Stanley Weston, the franchise's creator and the inventor of the original 1963 12-inch toys, fought in the United States Army during the Korean War.
    • Larry Hama, who created many aspects for the 1980s revival, served in the US Army Corps of Engineers in the Vietnam War. Tunnel Rat, an explosive ordnance disposal specialist, was based on Hama himself.

    Video Games 
  • Deltarune: According to Toby Fox in the 6th Anniversary livestream of Chapter 1, the scene where Susie bullies Kris before they enter the Dark World was inspired by what a real bully did in Toby's life, who was familiar with his mother.
  • When Bethesda Studios took over the production of Fallout 3, they based it in Washington, DC. Their studios used to be based in a suburb of Washington, DC called Bethesda, Maryland. This is why the landscape in Fallout 3 is so detailed: the developers know the area. Gamers who live in the DC metro area noticed and praised Bethesda for it. Of course, the player can also explore a (fictionalized) version of the Bethesda Studios offices in the game.
  • In I Was a Teenage Exocolonist, Dys's broodiness is based on Sarah Northway's own struggles with early adolescence.
  • Pokémon Scarlet and Violet director Shigeru Ohmori mentioned in a Famitsu interview that he drew on his own experiences of losing his parents at a young age to write Arven.
  • Helen Reidy, the co-creator of one of the earliest sandbox games Skool Daze (and its sequel Back 2 Skool), was a primary school teacher, which inspired the setting of these games.
  • An inversion happened for a Chinese visual novel, Tiny Snow. When a player left a comment saying the romance plot in the game felt unrealistic, the creator admitted it's because he's never been in a loving relationship. This led to several people sending him love and support.
  • The sense of anxious dread and the intense physical and emotional distress that comes from it in Trilby's Notes is so compelling and accurate because the game's creator, Yahtzee, suffers heavily from anxiety himself. He's made several comments to the effect of how anxiety and the resulting effect on fear affect him. It also explains Trilby's convincing social confidence tactics; Yahtzee himself does something very similar in social events by keeping people at a comfortable distance with his public persona, reserving more of his self-described neurotic behavior for private spaces with friends, or sometimes letting it slip through when interacting with Gabe on Let's Drown Out.
  • The developers of Unpacking have stated that the chosen time period for the game (1997-2018) is because that was the time most of them grew up in and knew best.

  • The writer of the superhero webcomic Union of Heroes lives in the area where the stories of his comic take place and is a collector of superhero comic books.
  • Living with Insanity is about a writer trying to make a career out of doing comics.
  • Doc Nickel of The Whiteboard fixes paintball markers for a living, just like his Author Avatar but with fewer railguns and Funny Animals.
  • The Oatmeal is focused on numerous subjects that have bugged artist/writer Matthew Inman over the course of his life, most famously a Take That! rant towards his clientele when he worked as a web designer for 14 years.
  • Christina Strain, writer of The Fox Sister, grew up on the Yongsan military base in Seoul, on and around which the comic takes place.
  • Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal isn't just about what Zach Weinersmith knows, but since returning to university it's about everything he knows. The majority of strips are physics and math jokes, but jokes can be based on topics from any course he's taking. His classes must be full of fodder — since returning to school he hasn't made any jokes about meeting his deadline, or failing to, and often produces more than one a day — or one long equivalent to a week's worth of strips.
  • Twistwood Tales: Some of the comics are based on real experiences from the author, the ones involving the art school for example are based on the creator’s experiences as an artist.
  • Vápnthjófr saga takes place in the Swedish province Jämtland, which also is where its author grew up.
  • I Want To Be A Cute Anime Girl is about a 15 year old transgender girl named Cheryl discovering her identity. The Author Azul Crescent is a trans woman herself.
  • Rain centers on a teenage trans girl who's a massive fan of manga and retro games. Author Jocelyn Samara is a trans woman herself and is also a huge lover of manga, anime, and retro games.

    Web Videos 
  • The British Railway Stories: It's been hypothesized that Simon A.C. Martin, the creator of the series, chose Copley Hill sheds as the main setting from being inspired by his grandfather, who actually worked there.
  • WE'LL BE RIGHT BACK.: TapeWorm wrote the series out of her experiences in a lower-middle-class household with basic cable. Her fascination with old cable UI and error screens was what led her to start WBRB in the first place.
  • Working With Cold-Cuts (Annoying Customers) is based on the creator's past job working in a grocery deli and dealing with weird customers. Many commenters have related similar experiences especially working in retail or food service.
    Youtube comment: I worked in a deli for 10 years, when you said the line "it's for my dog" I had violent flashbacks and almost destroyed my computer.

    Western Animation 
  • According to this article, when Matt Groening was a kid, he thought the Springfield depicted in Father Knows Best was actually Springfield, Oregon (which was a couple of hours away from his hometown of Portland). Thus, the genesis behind The Simpsons's use of the "Where the Hell Is Springfield?" trope (even though it was specifically named after the state of Oregon).
    • Mike Scully said he based the episode "Marge Be Not Proud", where Bart gets caught shoplifting and disappoints Marge, on his own experiences getting caught shoplifting as a kid.
    • Brent Forrester attended Lollapalooza to do research for the episode "Homerpalooza" and found it to be a miserable experience, with many of the jokes in this episode based on that experience (getting accused of being a "narc" by a concert-goer, lots of ads, a freak show, several sour-faced teens and cameras being seized and thrown in the trash).
  • Animaniacs. The episode "Bumbie's Mom" centers around Slappy taking Skippy to see a Bambi expy called "Bumbie," and poor Skippy becomes traumatized after seeing Bumbie's mother get killed by a hunter. Writer and producer, Sherri Stoner (who also provided the voice of Slappy) claimed that she based this episode on her own traumatizing experience when she first saw Bambi as a child.
    • Another Slappy segment, "I Got Yer Can", where Slappy feuds with a neighbor who takes offense when she tries to dispose of a can in the neighbor's recycling bin, is also based on something that happened to one of the writers.
  • F is for Family is inspired by comedian Bill Burr's childhood in the 1970s.
  • Glitch Techs: Both Eric Robles and Dan Milano are avid gamers, with Robles having spent much of his childhood in local arcades (which also served as the inspiration for his previous series).
  • Infinity Train:
    • The first season's protagonist, Tulip, is from creator Owen Dennis's home state of Minnesota, hailing from the real-life city of North Branch. In addition to that season occasionally referencing things that only locals of the region would know about, Tulip being an aspiring programmer comes from Dennis' own interest in the subject.
    • All of the school stories that season two deuteragonist Jesse talks about are direct retellings of things that happened to the writers in their school lives, from schoolmates comparing shavings at the end of class to being forced to do the Butterfly stroke in the swim team because no one else knew how.
    • Season four protagonists Ryan and Min-Gi are from the fictional town of Lake Powell, based on the real-life town of Powell River, British Columbia, where storyboard artist Ryan Pequin grew up, with extra research being done to make sure that the fictional town's appearance mirrored that of his hometown during the 1980s.
  • Gravity Falls:
  • South Park:
    • The town of Fairplay, Colorado provides both the name and the visual basis for the fictional South Park. Fairplay is located in southern part of Park County and several local institutations such as the school and police station are labeled as "South Park".
    • Matt Stone grew up in the Denver suburb of Littleton, Colorado, and attended school in Boulder with Trey Parker, so much of the local flavor and regional shout-outs originate from those areas.
  • King of the Hill: In "Yankee Hankee", Hank Hill is horrified to learn that he was actually born in New York City instead of Texas like he'd always believed. This was inspired by Mike Judge learning he was actually born in Ecuador instead of the United States.
  • Molly of Denali: "Grandpa's Drum" was based on the personal memories of Tanana Athabascan tribal Elder Luke Titus.
  • The Owl House's macabre asthetic was inspired by the stained glass artwork at the Catholic high school Dana Terrace attended. And on a more plot relevant note, Luz getting attached to the Good Witch Azura series because her father gave her a copy of the first book shortly before he passed away was based off of Dana reciving a copy of Pokémon Red from her father just before he was killed in a car accident.

  • Monty Python were veteran British comedy writers and much of the humor satirizes the tropes that British comedy writers (and British entertainment in general) were fond of that Python found suspect or trite. When they weren't Lampshade Hanging it, they were doing their best to twist them or avoid them altogether. The members would also show off their elite education by littering their gags with pretty high-brow jokes and Genius Bonus.
  • Even though they are small and relatively obscure fandoms, a surprising amount of the TRON and ReBoot Fan Fic writers work in computer repair, system engineering, programming, and computer science.
  • The Speculative Biology artist/writer Dylan "Sheather888" Bajda has kept pet birds, including canaries, for years, so he created an entire world for them.

    In-universe examples 
  • Rohan Kishibe of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure fame (based partially on author Hirohiko Araki) is a manga-ka that embraces this philosophy as part of his author abilities, believing that "researching reality" helps improve his stories greatly. Unfortunately, he tends to take this to freakish extremes such as torturing and killing a spider to see how it reacts to pain, then licking its corpse just to see how it tastes. His Stand, Heaven's Door, can read minds as well, so he uses it to get more inspiration for his manga as well. Whether or not the participant is willing.
    • Hirohiko Araki himself also subscribes to this idea, hence why many parts of the manga feature in-depth explanations of various international cultures (up to and including Part 3 including a guide on how to barter for cheaply-priced kebab meals).
  • In the eighth of the Haruhi Suzumiya novel series, the author wrote about writing, at some point the titular character states that "anyone can write" and she does in fact recruit almost everyone she knows to write for her literature magazine, while each of the characters ends up writing about a subject they do actually know about, only the ones who have the reading habit write something at least interesting, everyone else just throws random words together (and the ones who read the magazine do realize this).
  • In Cabin by the Lake, Stanley writes a horror movie script by covertly putting his own murderous depravities in the story. The murders he carries out are all 'research' for his story. Not a terribly smart move if he wanted to keep the fact that he's actually a serial killer a secret.
  • Touko Fukawa in Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc is a famous romance novelist who reveals to The Hero in her Free Time Events that all her lovey-dovey stories are personal fantasies meant to add some happiness to her existence. When he encourages her to write how she actually feels, he finds the result amazingly well-written, yet so depressing that he almost wants to die from reading it. Keep in mind that the same hero made it through the whole ordeal without giving into the Big Bad's Despair Gambit.
  • A song by Mitch Benn claims, amongst other things, that J. K. Rowling can do magic, Ian Fleming is a superspy, and Dick Francis is a horse, before concluding "And you don't want to know the truth about Stephen King".
  • Parodied in Key & Peele, where Stan Lee decides to come by the Marvel offices to show off some new character concepts based on his experiences as a geriatric such as "Heyday", a superhero stuck in his glory days, "Techno", who has the power to understand modern technology or "The Grey Chaser", a hot middle-aged woman with a thing for older men. When the writers tells him that all of his ideas are unusable, he seemingly accepts this only to come up with a new superteam: The Fired Bunch, a bunch of youngsters who had the balls to bite the hand that fed them and are forever unemployable, which is met with applause.
  • Garfield: Garfield wants to write a book and claims "a writer must write something he knows about" while trying to decide on a theme. He picks "night indigestion".
  • Another In-Universe example happens in The Pet Girl of Sakurasou. While Mashiro's art skills are impeccable, her storytelling is just awful. Her editor Ayano suggested that she write what happens around where she lives. Her manga Nanohana-sou was in fact a replica of what happens in the Sakura Hall. She just switched the position of Sorata (her Cloudcuckoolander's Minder) and herself.
  • In film Platinum Blonde: Stew's true Love Interest Gallagher tells him that he's suffering from Writer's Block because he keeps trying to make his play about things and places he knows nothing about, like a ship off the coast of Norway. She says that he should make it about his collapsing marriage to Uptown Girl Anne. He does, and he writes the play in no time.
  • Satirized in a The Onion article about a tow-truck driver who has a great idea for a thriller set in the world of tow-truck driving.
  • Fafnir from Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid puts instructions for performing actual curses that he has learned over his life into the doujinshi that he writes. They tend not to sell very well because he's more focused on putting in the curses than having a compelling story or good artwork.
  • Lampshaded in I Remember Mama as Katryn's work is analyzed by a famous professional authornote  who advises her in those words, since her own best stuff has always focused on the people and places she's familiar with.
  • An incredibly dark one occurs in Coco, where Héctor's murderer included a poisoning scene in one of their movies that is nearly identical to how they had killed their victim in real life. The only difference is that the murderer placed themselves in the role of the victim, and in the movie, they of course survived.
  • Discussed In-Universe in the Tantei Team KZ Jiken Note novel The Birthday Blues Knows. Aya's senpai at the Literature club recommends her doing this to start creative writing. It is all implied that this series is Aya following this advice to heart.
  • Wishbone: Referenced In-Universe in Wishbone Mysteries #3: Riddle Of The Wayward Books. Joe's working in a used bookstore, which has a parrot - Mr. Faulkner, who keeps squawking the trope name - as a resident. His words help Joe to be Genre Savvy and solve the mystery, linking the current rash of strange events (the store is seemingly being burglarized, but the "thief" is actually leaving rare books for the owner to find, sell and profit off of) with the events of the book The Haunted Bookshop (in which the same book keeps getting stolen from and returned to a store), which Joe is currently reading.
  • In the There Was Once an Avenger From Krypton story, Like a Puzzle Piece, Tulip Olsen decided to scrap her Space Invaders clone game and instead decided to create a Choose Your Own Adventure game based off her experiences in the train.
  • Despite the Irony of being an utterly dateless guy himself, Sequential Artist Nozaki from Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun seems to consider potential ideas for his future writings so seriously that he tries to ensure that he and his friends act them out first before putting them to paper.
  • Raven's End: Anders, an 18-year-old aspiring novelist, writes a novel about his alcoholic dad, his downtrodden mom, and their depressing slum of a neighborhood. He admits that he writes about them because it's all he knows.
  • Malcolm & Marie: Malcolm's film about a young female drug addict trying to get clean strongly draws from his girlfriend Marie's story (among others), and she's upset with him for not involving her as much as he could have or crediting her properly afterwards.
  • Flip Dimensions: The fictional worlds in Lily's mind are all based on their writer Lily's experiences with different cultures and knowledge of various genres of fiction. All the residents of the fictional worlds won't be able to know any information that Lily doesn't know, though Avenir notes that their wisdom in what to do with that knowledge is different.
  • Hermione Granger in The Demon Who Lived writes a best-selling novel based on her past life as Kallen Kozuki, which she entitles "Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion", mostly in an attempt to find Lelouch and C.C.
  • At the end of the Language Arts Through Imagination short "Do Dragons Dream?", Emma and Jeremy decide to write a story based on their encounter with Figment for their homework assignment.
  • Calvin and Hobbes: Played for Laughs in one strip where Calvin is writing a novel about a guy who flicks through TV channels with a remote. Hobbes is puzzled by that premise, and Calvin yells that he's been told to write what he knows. The whole thing is of course another of the strip's Author Tracts on the banalities of television.
  • The eroge Visual Novel, and its anime adaptation, Eroge! H mo Game mo Kaihatsu Sanmai (Eroge! Sex and Games Make Sexy Games) revolves around the protagonist wanting to make an eroge game, despite the fact that he has no background on video game design, writing, illustration, etc. He gets hired by a small eroge-game studio that's on the verge of bankruptcy, who are hoping that their next release, a harcore fetish title, will turn their furtunes around. Since the studio's staff has no experience in the hardcore genre, the protaginist helps the employees and producers make the game by partaking in experimental and outlandish kinks.