Wednesday, May 26, 2010

WEDNESDAY WRITING: Writing What You Want To Know

I've heard the expression Write What You Know more times than I can count. To an extent, I can understand the reasoning behind it - it's a good launching point for writing, it's an easier path to follow, and it may be more authentic than writing what you don't know.

But, if every author only wrote what they knew, there would be no science fiction, no urban fantasy, no Harry Potter or Twilight or Pet Sematary or Lord of the Rings! Because these plot lines are certainly nothing that the author knew.

I say Write What You Want to Know. Write about a subject you are passionate about, and willing to research extensively. Look at photographs and maps, search the Internet, talk to experts, and read every book you can get your hands on. With the current state of technology, you can pretty much find an expert on any topic, detailed specifics on a hobby or product, images of remote locations, and much much more. If you throw your heart and soul into learning about something, you WILL know it. And you will be able to write about it.

In both of my novels I did a vast amount of research - on Greek mythology, Maine, boating, wiccan rituals, and 1940s Central Park! Because believe me ... if I wrote what I knew, nobody would want to read it. My life is pretty boring and I'm the first to admit it.

Image Credit: SXC


  1. LOL. That's SOO true. For Mirror I had to do a TON of research on parallel dimensions and science advancements that were ALMOST possible. I think I did a good month of research before I even started. Believe me. I knew NOTHING of that stuff before hand, but I'm an expert now. :D

  2. Interesting premise, Nikki. Makes as much sense to me as writing what you know. I like the research aspect of writing. Granted, it can become daunting. But when that one element is found, the research is worth it. I've done a ton of research into psychic powers and energies...even had to learn how grapes are harvested at a winery. Phew...but know I know it. ";-)

    Nicely done.

  3. Cool post, Nikki! I really love immersing myself in research for my book. That's half of the fun! And you're right: nobody would want to know about my life, either. Like the thrilling time I had last night reading "French Women Don't Get Fat" while I ate lots of chocolate. :)

  4. I had heard this advice at a conference and it really clicked for me. I "know" appellate law& parenthood, but didn't want to write about those things. If you write what you're passionate about, that comes through. Plus, if you find something to be passionate about, research isn't a chore. It's a blessing.

  5. Huzzah, Nikki! I cannot tell you how many times I've heard 'write what you know.' I like 'write what you want to know' so much better.

  6. Thanks everyone - glad it resonated with you!

  7. I absolutely agree, Nikki! Great point. Emmergence started as a "Write Where You Want To Be" because I was losing it with my own life! So much more enjoyable to write that way and probably a better read for it.

  8. Great post Nikki! I wish it worked for me :-) Someday I'll write a novel set in Wales, but none of my inspirations so far have led me there! Instead, I'm off in Spain, Rome, places I know hardly anything about...

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