Friday, June 29, 2012

Write About What (You Think) You Know

When did you start writing in all seriousness? What did you write about? What were your goals?

On Facebook, I came across this letter Stephen King wrote to a publisher at the tender age of 14, prompting writers on my timeline to reminiscence. At 14, I just started out writing ‘adult’ characters. One story was about a journalist in search for her missing friend, solving a murder in the process. There was an evil psychiatrist bad guy using dubious hypnosis techniques, and the suspicious yet good guy who’d end up as the heroine’s love interest.

Certainly, that didn’t qualify as ‘writing what you know’, at first glance. The basics of what I’ve always loved in a story, to read and to write, are still visible in there, suspense, romance, friendship, a woman in the center. What I find most fascinating is how reading and writing allow you to discover new worlds, while your own world shapes the stories and the books you’ll seek out. It’s a process that never stops. The right brain gives you the gut feeling of where to go. The left brain helps you to break it down into steps and transform images into written words.

These days, the ‘good guy’ in aforementioned story would more likely be a lady. I was very much unaware of that fact at the age of 14. I might keep the evil psychiatrist. I’m a psychologist, so I could see myself having fun with that.

Write about what you know is one of the oldest rules in our craft. Of course we can’t know everything, but that way we are challenged to interact with people, books, knowledge. The combination of these efforts makes a story that no one else but you can write.

Chances are, when you are ready to challenge yourself, you might challenge somebody else to look at their world in a different way.

PS: I'm still learning about this blog. I'll add information soon, like the bio, and will share news on the publication process as I get them. I'm waiting for the first round of edits at the moment which is exciting, and a little frightening. Mostly exciting, though. After all, it's a new learning experience.

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