Monday, July 12, 2010

What You Know

Do you remember the advice given to all would be fiction authors? Write what you know? I was just wondering, how much is that adhered to? Should it be adhered to?
Do you think that Stephen King has actually experienced all of that freaky stuff. How about the romance novelists? Do you think they actually live their lives in a world wind of perfect sensual delights. Do you think Rodenberry actually visited uncharted worlds where all the women were young, beautiful, and wore belly baring tops, mini skirts, and gogo boots? Not likely. Now that's imagination for you.
Could it be that we weren't meant to take the advice so literally? Was it meant to warn us against writing about a someone in Morocco knowing full well we've hardly even been out of the state?
Whatever it means, I think it's bad advice.
For many of us, the very act of writing about the unknown and untried is cathartic and liberating. Through writing, particularly when developing a character, we learn more about ourselves...the type of person we do and don't want to be.
When we write what we don't know, we are forced to seek out new information and ask questions. It is called research.
Write what you know? How confining, poor, and stagnant.
What do you think?


  1. I totally agree. Wonder what would Tolkien had produced had he taken up to this advice, he was a professor, a reserved soul, and hardly ever went out much,

    I think it is the imagination that makes all the difference, between a truly great writer and an average one(correct me if i am wrong). A little madness between the ears cannot always be a bad thing, especially if one is aspiring to be a writer,

    Though I guess the advice might not be so bad for writers who are a little wanton in the imagination department, the sort of writers who rely a little too much on their surroundings and their experiences to weave a story that is convincing enuff to read,

    I am not at all suggesting that one shouldn't take snippets of facts and inspiration from the things one sees around himself, though I think the inspiration from real life people and events should also be complimented with a bit of improvisation...

    For example, a dark demonic character with hideous looks in any given story can also be inspired from a certain villainous individual one came across in real life,

    I personally think we should take the fundamental human models from our real life experiences and then leave it to imagination to further improvise upon the way they look and behave in the story.

  2. Hi Leviathan
    Good points. Take what is valuable from real life and make it into something better with imagination.

  3. That's what I love about writing fantasy. No research is needed; I just pull things whole cloth out of my deranged mind.

  4. Boy oh boy, do you! DR is a testament to that...and I like it a lot.