I think I’ve gone a long time as a writing blog without having a post on “write what you know.” I had second and third thoughts on whether I should bother. I’m sure there are 4.634 gazillion blog posts on the subject.
The term write what you know is considered a good adage to follow. If you quilt, you can write compelling fiction about a team of quilters. If you like motorcycles but hate quilting, let the first group do the quilt stories.
There are people who rail against this advice. “If we only wrote what we knew, we wouldn’t have any science fiction. Or historicals. Or sparkly vampire love fests.” (Maybe that last one wouldn’t be a bad thing.)
I would say, they’re both right.
|I didn’t have to eat durian to describe it|
The rub is that I don’t know if I can write the same stuff forever. I haven’t been to every country, and I don’t think everything I write will be set among tropical breezes and exotic fruit. Obviously authors write about many things they don’t know firsthand. They do their research, use real world experiences as references, and play off of them to write something new and unique to them.
Brandilyn Collins has an excellent three post series on her old blog where she can take anyone and put them into the mindset of a murderer. If we wrote what we knew, a lot of mystery and suspense writers have some skeletons in their closets. Maybe literally. But Brandilyn’s method helps an author go to a place they would never reach otherwise (we hope).
There you go. I’m officially on the fence. Sometimes you need to write what you know. Other times demand something original, but you can still find analogies in your life to make it pop.
What side of the fence are you on?