Some wise person said to write what you know. Some people agree with this, some people don’t.
What about you? Do you agree with that?
Whether you do or not, I’m not going to tell you this:
Write what you know and write what you don’t know.
Easy enough, right?
Why should I write what I know?
You know a lot more than you think, that’s why.
You can draw in most life experiences into your stories. The best research would be your own memory. Look things up in your journal, if you have one and write in it frequently.
How can I write what I know?
Did you get a flat tire on your way to work the other day? Put your character in your shoes. How does getting that flat tire make your character feel? Is he angry because maybe he just got the car fixed? Is he frustrated or worried because now he’ll be late to work? Or maybe he’s heading out to pick up his date and he’s already nervous enough without the flat tire. Or maybe he feels indifferent because he’s in no rush and it is what it is. He can’t do anything about it other than fix it… Or call someone to come fix it for him.
What did you actually do when you got that flat tire? Is that how your character would act? Which character would be best to put in that situation? Play around with it, the possibilities are endless.
But wouldn’t I just be telling my life story as a memoir with a fictional character?
Yes and no.
If you write what you know, you’re creating a relatable situation for your characters and readers to have in common. Yet, you’re not explaining the true story word for word. You have to embellish a little. Fictionalize the situation.
Fine. But how do I do that?
Play the “What If?” game.
What if your character’s tire got flat because someone poked holes in it? What if some unknown force caused the flat tire? What if the mechanic comes down to help fix the tire and that person ends up being your character’s soul mate?
Maybe your character wants to avoid the situation altogether and goes back in time to avoid it. But then maybe he gets stuck back in time. Or maybe he makes it back without realizing he changed one important detail about his life accidentally.
You can twist and turn your own situation into something book-worthy. Turn your own situation into a plot, or into a bigger situation to help move your plot along.
There are a lot of twists and turns out there. There are a lot of, “should I have,” “could I have,” “would I have,” and “what if?” questions out there.
I mean, tell me there hasn’t been a situation in your life where you thought back on it wondering how you could have done things differently.
So, good advice or bad, you should still write what you know. Because your experience by getting fired at your job could be the beginning of your bestseller.
Of course, it’s always best to write what you don’t know as well. Just to mix things up a bit.
But there will be more on that tomorrow.