One: Write What You Know

One: Write What You Know

A Lesson by Belator Books
"

If you don't know it, research it until you do.

"


"Write what you know... please."

In my high school English class our borderline-highbrow teacher would feelingly repeat the above phrase after giving each assignment. "I am thoroughly tired," he would continue, "Of reading of spacemen and dragons and soldiers and knights who are baseless shadows of what they could be."

Therein lies the juicy meat of this particular point: writing some slip-shod, ill-researched poor example of a book not only tortures the reader but flings a blot onto the face of Literature, itself. Well-read audiences groan upon reading tripe; their lament is not only for the wasted time but for the literary crime of ruining a character's potential with ignorant writing. When a writer knows the subject and characters of his/her book well, it shows. Likewise, even the most rudimentary readers can discern when said author is talking through their hat, or "writing by the seat of their pants". Even science-fiction writers (and fantasy writers) must research weaponry/scientific details and read voraciously of fellow and past writers' work in order that their book comes off with a measure of credence. Writing what you know is the main difference between a good book and a laughingly terrible one.

There are a variety of ways this can be accomplished; the easiest by far is personal experience. Writing your own story (or that of those close to you) allows one to grasp and pen accurate detail, correctly quoted responses to questions, the nuances of human expression and scenes can be thus painted with startlingly-familiar shades. My first fiction novel was based on the lives of real people, though mixed around a bit; pieces of the lives of one set of friends and family were selected and attached to those of others, well-spiced with carefully-researched details.

In many cases research can stand in where personal experience fails. For instance, I spent a solid month just counting out blocks from one location in my book to another, estimating--using different circumstances and Google Maps--just how long it would take the characters to get from point A to B, as well as discovering what state they'd arrive in. Some long-standing natives of the city mentioned were consulted and I was elated to find that the research I'd done was accurate. Said folks were also pivotal in providing local euphemisms to place the scene without having to constantly refer to the city's name.

Standing observation is the next method in line to aid in 'knowing' a scene or character, and by it have many good details enhanced past books. Such activity can be as simple as sitting on a park bench and watching folks walk by, taking note of their expressions, body language and clothes. This method is a bit more difficult than personal experience and research, as the observer/writer is left wondering about the lives of the people in the witnessed scene. A goodly amount of creative guessing is then needed in order to 'fill in the blanks', but that is part of the fun of writing and helps the observations notated translate into character personality, scene details and real actions.

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Comments

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Posted 2 Years Ago


I agree with this. If you don't know about something but want to write about it, you shouldn't not write about it, but research it!

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Posted 2 Years Ago


Thank you....this will be of great help

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Posted 2 Years Ago


This is very nice. Thanks for the insight.

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Posted 2 Years Ago


You have some good points here, thank you for this advice.

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Posted 2 Years Ago


Thank you so much for this advice!! I'm really excited to try it out! This seems like a very interesting way to know the people around you and then write the characters accordingly. Thank you so much!

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Posted 2 Years Ago


thank you for this advice I will use it.

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Posted 2 Years Ago


i will look at your pointers

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Posted 2 Years Ago


This is wonderful (really wonderful) advice! Thank you for posting such a lesson :) This is really helpful for newbies like me who wish to write a story with characters that can stand on firm ground and not on "thin air". Thank you again!

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Posted 2 Years Ago


This is very very very helpful to me! My writer's block is even gone the instant I read the first part. At last! I found a sensible site wherein people are real writers. Thank you so much for this lesson! This is really good. I swear. Thanks again!

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Posted 3 Years Ago


Well said,thanks

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Belator Books
Belator Books

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About
The Styles are two fiction writers with day jobs. Married 17 years, 4 children and an organic garden. Twitter: @BelatorBooks & @writerlrstyles WordPress Blogs: www.lrstyles.wordpress.com www..