Friday, May 24, 2013

Why Writers Should Still Write What They Know

Write from the heart
For years, fiction writers were exhorted to write what they knew about stories, themes and characters. With virtually limitless information now at the ready, we're more adventurous, exploring unfamiliar terrain. Yet, the sage advice of writing what we know still applies, perhaps less to the intellect, and more to the heart.

It's possible for a writer to have factual knowledge of her subject, but not intimate knowledge. This doesn't mean writers must experience all we write about, although the most meaningful stories have a kernel of truth. It does mean the writer must have a feel for the subject, a passion for the work and a personal sense of the characters that can't be achieved through research alone. Such knowledge takes a willingness to spend quality time with the story and its inhabitants on a regular basis, daily, if possible. Only time, and the trial and error of revision, can create the kind of knowledge our mentors really meant when they said, write what you know.

For more on this topic, see this supporting point: “Write What You Know” – The Most Misunderstood Piece of Good Advice, Ever.

And this counterpoint: Don’t Write What You Know.

Happy writing!

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