How is it the end of April? Wasn’t it just February? Dear god. And I’m behind. As usual. Though I digress. It’s Wednesday and another random blog post. Though, with them happening every week, on the same day….hmm, not quite random, lol. Okay, just the topics, I suppose.
Anyway, this week is a writing related post. The concept is simple. Write what you know…do I support this theory or kick it to the curb and just rebel? Dear god. Another topic where it’s neither yes nor no. More of a combination of both. No, I’m not just indecisive—well, I am at times, but that’s not the reason behind my fence sitting. It really is a bit of both.
So…write what you know. Why I agree.
Basically, it adds authenticity to your story. For example. I used to fly helicopters for a living. Now, I’m not saying I’m an expert, but… I have a pretty damn good understanding of how they work, what they’d be used for. The range, type, etc. And I think this shows in the books where one of my characters is a pilot. Okay, so it’s always been the female lead…sue me. I like strong women. But I also think having actually done the act gives me a unique insight over just reading about it during research. I’ve frozen my ass off in northern places. Had wind gusts drop the machine a few hundred feet in the blink of an eye. Had to land in less than desirable places.
This holds true for other aspects. Did you study anthropology? Then you might know a thing or two about dig sites, procedures. Customs of ancient tribes. Do you travel? Great. Write a story based in a country you’ve been to. This experience means you know if the small town has cobble streets or if there’s even a restaurant open past six pm. (Don’t laugh. There’s a small town on the north end of the island where they roll the sidewalks up at five. You have maybe five places to eat after that, mostly pizza joints.) Hell, they don’t even have a Tim Horton’s! I know. Believe me, I know.
Anyway, writing what you know means less research and more accurate descriptions. And when you’re connected to a subject by experience, I do think it shows through. Gives it a natural depth. It also gives you confidence. You don’t worry if you’ve gotten the facts wrong. If Wiki screwed you over this time because someone decided to ‘update’ the post, lol. So, in many ways, I follow this credence. I tend to write what I know. Of course, I’ve had quite the ‘varied’ past. Basically, I’ve done lots of jobs because I had a hard time settling on anything. You know how it is… squirrel.
But there are times when you need to branch out. Mostly because you love a genre or time period or want to challenge yourself. I love the Old West. LOVE. IT. Yes, I watched every damn episode of Dr. Quinn. The third Back to the Future is my favourite. And I loved a short lived show called—Legend, staring Richard Dean Anderson, set in the late 1800s. Oh, and don’t forget about HELL ON WHEELS. Anson Mount! The train race of the 1860s ish… it’s a fantastic show, though at times too ‘realistic’ for me.
And thus, I have more than a couple of books set in this time. But here’s the thing. I’m not a history buff. I don’t have lots of experience in the subject, which means I spend a lot of time looking stuff up. When did towns get indoor plumbing? Showers? What about double action pistols and rifles? What towns were serviced by trains? Hell, did men really where Stetson hats? Now, it’s not as if I can go back in time and live the lifestyle, but it’s definitely a different writing experience than a flight scene. I can crash a chopper with the best of them 😉
And let’s not forget sex scenes. I doubt every author has experienced every type of sexual scene they’ve written about. I’ll confess. I haven’t. (But damn I’d love to try a few of them out…one day. When I have a boyfriend.) Anyway, it’s really no different than branching out and writing a genre you’re unfamiliar with.
Damn, that’s a lot of words to say… ehhh. Whatever.
In the end, I think for people starting out with their first book or two—write what you know. What you love. What gets you excited about writing. There’s always time to branch out and the confidence knowledge brings to the table will be indispensable.
Now check out the other ladies, who probably said all of this in like five sentences. Kind of makes you long for those wordless Wednesdays or the five words or less post.