Thursday, December 1, 2011

What I know.

The typical list of "how to be a writer" usually contains the phrase "write what you know."  And when what I know isn't enough?   When confronted with this question, I used to say, "Yeah but I don't know what it feels like to live in a dystopian future or be mixed up with faeries.  Or..."  The list went on and I slowly but surely wrote off the "write what you know" mentality.

Because really, I don't write what I know.

While reading through some notes on my most recent story, I discovered one vital thing.  I write ALL about what I know.  I mean A LOT.  So I started to think about how much of "me" was in each one of my stories.  Not me as in the protagonist is me, but how much of my knowledge has impacted my novels.

There are strange medical procedures, leaving home for the first time, medical procedures, shots, clothing....

That's when I realized, I know a lot.  Or at least I'd like to think I know a lot.  I can make an outfit if just given a picture (Admit it, that's cool).  I can shoot you a movie given the proper camera and equipment.  I know what it's like to be injected with radioactive isotopes (that is not made up people.) (And, no, I don not glow).  I'm deathly afraid of shots.  I know what it's like to have a broken heart, to fail, to question what I'm told.....  If you think about it for a few moments, you can probably come up with your own list and anything from that list can easily become the foundation of a novel.  I could write a novel about costumes designers trying to finish a show or movie producers desperately pulling their movie together.  What you know can take you all kinds of places.

And what you don't know.  Research!

Are you using what you know if your novel?  Wanna share?  Leave a comment!



  1. I know a little about everything and a lot about nothing. I think the successful story is when you weave together what you know and with what you don't and make all sound believable. Nice post.

  2. I've always thought that the adage "write what you know" is massively misunderstood. It's not saying that you can't write certain things - it's saying to take pieces of you into your work. Which even speculative authors do! A lot!

    'Course, I can't mindread the intent of the original source of the quote, but that was always my own interpretation...