Wednesday, 24 July 2013

#wpad July challenge - Write what you know


(It was a dark and stormy night. The wind blew against the lantern.  I gripped it tighter between wet fingers. Back and forth it swung. It's yellow beam cast random light across the muddy grass.  The howl was nearer this time and behind me, getting closer, closer.....)

You may be better reading a post from someone who regularly writes fiction!  Though even in poetry I have done research!  So from my limited experience these are my comments.

Writing what you know is one of the first poinst stated in every book or course you attend on writing.  And it seems logical.  After all how can you write about what you don't know with any conviction?  However, sometimes it seems hard to find something original because we all think our lives are too boring, but we all experience similar things in life.  Maeve Binchy wrote about the ordinary, everyday lives most of us live and she made a great living at it.  I loved her books.  We all have hobbies and jobs, background we can delve into.  Why make it hard and choose to write about an era and place we haven't lived in when there is so much in our own lives and environment to tackle?

However, there will come a time (maybe) when you want to try your hand at writing something else and that is where real research comes in.  Those who write detective or historical novels have to do their research because there is always someone out there who will pick holes because they are 'in the know'.  Writing has to be authentic to readers.  I know when I read a book that is set somewhere I have been I feel that much closer to it as I recognise landmarks and remember the layout or feel of the place.  I am sure there are books and courses you can take to guide you in research.  Better still, if you know someone 'in the know' you can pick their brains (if they are willing) or they may put you in touch with the right person.  If you can visit a place where your story is set then go there.  There's lots you can do, loads of resources available in libraries and local history associations, online, books.

For short stories it's probably easier to stick with places you know.  You don't want to spend ages researching for a few thousands words or less.  Novels are different.  Read lots of books in the genre you want to write, see how others do it. (Actually reading for any type of writing is a must)

Whatever you write don't be restricted in your characters, subject, place and era if you have a great idea and that's what you want to do. Just bone up on your research, get advice and write it.

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