Thursday, October 14, 2010

write what you know

When I agreed to participate in NaBloWriMo, I wrote an outline for the whole month at one sitting. I have been adding, rewriting, changing and improving the entries, but the skeleton is already there. :-D

Today's post was supposed to be posted in a week, but something happened that made me change my mind. i got the Newsletter for The Writer Magazine and one of the articles in it (available to registered members - just register, it's free and the articles are interesting) was "Write Was You Know - And Be Sorry"

"Write what you know ... and prepare a toast. To a life without shooting stars that carry strange life forms, talking animals, machines that come to life, mysterious strangers, sudden revelations, words you’ve never heard before—and the thoughts in other people’s minds. You may have to forfeit forever the music of a close-range gunshot on a cool blue morning or the clash of battle-axes at the gates of Mordor (although you may not miss the hiss of the demon who’s taken over your spouse’s body)."

Yes... be prepared to write a boring story, because what we THINK we know is... actually very little :-D The thing is that... we know more than we think we do.

Also, a lot of things we write comes from our dreams, fantasies, nightmares, from what we read, see, hear, associations and ideas, subconscious transformed into symbolic stories... we CANNOT but write what we "know" :-D

How to outgrow "write what you know"?
Write what you don't know

"Most people think "write what you know" means you have to put characters in situations you're personally familiar with. But in my opinion, that's not what it means."
- Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent
Tina Morgan agrees with her

It really is more about tapping into your assets, "what you know"...  You do create more authenticity, more real and believable characters, dialogue and everything, if you write what you know. I am reading a mystery where the victim was murdered by choking her with wool yarn. Hand spun wool yarn. What *I* know is that wool yarn is VERY elastic. It will break before it creates the tension to actually kill anyone. I doubt you could strangle a person even with a woven wool scarf. You would need to stuff the wool into someone's throat to get this person to suffocate. Or this is what I think, so every time I read about the yarn I cringe. This is why you SHOULD be writing "what you know".

Just remember that you don't need to stop learning to know things ;-)
Don't limit your subject choices to what you know NOW, but have the world as your oyster, and learn about the things you want to write about.

Lovely Hart suggested I'd go and see what lovely Helena writes in her blog "becoming Layla".  Become who you want to write about, so you know what you want to write...

 A couple of pages I find extremely inspiring: Fersen74 and baroncorvo

1 comment:

Hart Johnson said...

Ha! Great post! I could write a 'what you know' story that might be a depressing chick-lit book, but frankly I don't want to relive THAT.

I don't 'know murder' but in the book I'm writing, the MC is a Public Relations representative (I know several from a former career in advertising), her boyfriend is a reporter (I have a journalism degree) and the best friend likes to encourage everyone to get naked *shifty* So I know them... all three of them, very well. Deeply familiar details DO make fore more believability, even if there is a lot you don't really know that makes the main story.