Write What You Know?

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Write What You Know?

There is no mystery to writing. There is no secret formula to write a best seller. All you need is an idea. A spark of inspiration to get the creative juices flowing. While you sit there you recall something  you heard in connection to writing: Write what you know. You scratch your head, thinking to yourself: Write what I know? Well, my day job is an accountant, I’m single, and have three cats, and not in a relationship. That would be boring as hell to write about. Maybe when you put it that way, but what if you make your main character an accountant in some government run company and the MC comes across questionable accounts and expenses?

Maybe you clean places for a living and you come across something that resembles blood. Lots of blood. It’s possible someone spilled a can of red paint, but what if…?

Here’s another example: You work from home as a blogger, living in a small apartment or your parents’ basement. Someone comments on one of your blogs, revealing details about your daily life. What happens next? It’s up to you to provide the details.

You are a delivery person, having just pulled into the drive way of a house on the out skirts of town. As your vehicle approached the house, a car tore out of the drive way, barely missing your bumper. When you get to the door with the package, the screen door is ajar and it’s very quiet…

What if you are unemployed or a stay-at-home parent, or caregiver? A story can be based on a wrong number, something received in the mail or a noise you hear.

You can write what you know by  using your imagination.

What ‘Write what you know’ really means

The line ‘Write what you know’ actually refers to emotions you have experienced through your life and allowing these emotions to enter into your writing. Emotions a reader can relate to. When a writer can make me laugh out loud, cry, or become angry, I know they drew on their own emotions for these feelings and placed them in the story. They made me feel what they felt and they weren’t afraid to do that. You need to do the same when you are writing your story.

A way to learn about emotions in writing is through personal essays. They may never see the light of day as a published piece, but you can use them as a reference if you are stuck in your story. Reading a particular essay for a particular emotion can bring it to the forefront of your mind, allowing you to tap into that emotion for a scene you are working on.

Without emotion in your stories, the reader has a hard time relating to the protagonist and the other characters. Your characters are real to you in your mind, so make them real to the reader. Don’t hold back, let yourself bleed or cry onto the page. Show how the character is feeling in a particular scene, don’t tell it.

Another place you can tap your emotions is events from your childhood. The loss of a pet, having to move away from your friends, attending a new school. The teen years are full of emotions: Your first true love, your first break up, your first kiss.

We are human and emotional creatures. We love, we hate, we become jealous, we grieve, and we experience great joy and the deepest sorrow. Let your characters do the same. Let your readers feel what you felt. Write what you know.

May the words ever flow!

About Anna Dobritt

Anna Dobritt is an independent eBook author and an indie publisher of RPG PDFs and fantasy maps through Cartography Unlimited for RPGs. She loves to read and write, and lives in Michigan. Anna enjoys watching Dr. Who, both the classic episodes from the 1960s-1980s and the current episodes. Anna has three trilogies in the queue: Ravynwyng Chronicles Universe – Volume 1: The Beginning has been released, and Volume 2: Discovery, is going through the editing and revision process, with plans to self-publish in 2016. Volume 3: Truth is currently being written. Two other trilogies are The Archivist — Lenara Lenquil Adventures, and the Guardian Blades Trilogy. Anna has self-published Volume 1 of the Ravynwyng Chronicles Universe titled The Beginning; three short stories: The Hunter, First Raven, Raven Voice; a novelette titled Raven Flight, and a collection of short fiction titled Whispers from Within. Where the imagination soars on glowing wings! May the words ever flow!
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4 Responses to Write What You Know?

  1. I love your definition of the old axiom.

  2. Reblogged this on Don Massenzio's Blog and commented:
    More great advice from Anna Dobritt

  3. I like how you ironed that one out. Write what you know is so overused, and if we only did that few people would ever write a book worth reading.
    Our life experiences are what we know, like you say our emotions are the basis of what we know, what we’ve felt, but even then we can imagine what it might be like in any number of scenarios. We have a limitless arsenal of things to write about. Life experience is perhaps more important than anything, and an author made the point that “nobody under the age of thirty wrote a book worth reading” which isn’t entirely true obviously, but generally it holds water because writers need a certain amount of life experience to be able to channel it into a novel.

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