Posted in NaNoWriMo, Writing

Write What You Don’t Know (NaNoWriMo Prep Part 3)

Yesterday I explained why, in my opinion, writing what you know is good advice.

No one expects you to write complete nonfiction works of your life. No one expects you to base all of your fictional work on real life experiences.

You need a good balance between what you know and what you don’t know. I mean, let’s be honest here. If you’re writing fantasy, are you ever going to encounter a dragon? I’d say those chances are slim.

NaNoWriMo 2016 Prep: Write what you don't know

How do I write what I don’t know?

Research, research, research!

I was that kid in school who loved doing projects and essays that you needed to do research for.

Not mention that I’m a 90s kid so I grew up with the evolution of computers and technology. So any excuse to get me to be on the computer was good enough for me.

These days, the Internet is your best friend, though you have to wary of the types of websites you find. Sorry to say that not everything on the Internet is true.

Not even this blog as this is all my opinion. And that’s a fact.

But to be serious, there are many different ways to research.

How do I research?

Like I said, the Internet is a great one. As long as you find credible sources, you have a vast amount of information at your fingertips.

There are also books. The bookstore and the library are your friends. No one goes there as often as they should anymore. Even if you don’t have any research to do, just go in there and sniff a book or two. Better yet, buy a few.

Talk to people. Are you trying to research what it’s like to be a doctor? How to become a doctor? What they’re typical day is like? Talk to any doctors that you know. Ask to interview them. I babysit for a family and the kids’ father is in the Fire Academy. My main character is a detective, but I’ve been getting good insight on what the Police Academy is like. Fire and Police aren’t the same, but they run similar drills and are just as tough to get through.

Another form of research is (wait for it…) real life experiences.

Yes, I just did that.

Wait a minute!

Hold on, I’m still explaining.

I’m not telling you to do research on that hypothetical flat tire you got the other day. No, I’m telling you to research by hands-on experience.

For example, I have to research archery for my novel The Lost Girl. I’ve Googled archery and even looked up writing-related information about it through Pinterest. However, there’s only so much I can read about archery. There’s no feeling behind it.

I can explain how my protagonist holds her bow and pulls back the arrow, but I can’t describe how it feels to actually release the arrow. So, Kris is going to accompany me to an archery class. I’ll tell you all about that when the time comes.

But I’m sure you get my point now. Research is important and so is living. Everything counts and everything helps towards your writing.

Write down all your life experiences, good and bad. Find something that interests you and research it. It’s great material for your stories and you’ll learn something new.

Do you research a lot? What are your methods for researching? Or do you write more true-to-life type stories? Let me know in the comments!

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Author:

Born and raised in Massachusetts, Rachel Poli is a writer and blogger. She has an associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education and a bachelor’s degree in English Studies. She enjoys writing young adult novels, middle-grade, and children’s picture books. She is currently working on her first novel.

26 thoughts on “Write What You Don’t Know (NaNoWriMo Prep Part 3)

  1. In writing about something we don’t know, we could include situations that we have no idea about, such as a parent losing their child or a crazy accident which kills everybody involved, a mother, a young son, a pregnant woman and the likes and synthesize about it. Feel what you think your characters can feel and then try and write.
    It won’t be perfect, or even accurate, but it’ll help a lot in synthesizing new situations from scratch.

  2. It feels like electricity to release the arrow. And your entire body throbs a bit and tightens till you hit the mark (which I mostly missed). I went to archery class for about a year before I gave up. It was one of the best feelings ever!

    1. That’s cool! I can’t wait to take my archery class. It was always something I was interested in, but I didn’t want to really pursue it or anything. But now I’m extra curious because of my novel. I’m sure it’ll be great!

  3. I don’t dabble a lot in research, but I probably should. I have scenes where I have to give details or explain certain things, and there’s only so much I can make up, which is very little. So research would definitely be a boon for me.

    Pinterest seems to work best for me if I’m researching certain items. I can get a sense of what I’m looking for.

  4. Here is the new book out, but it is not non-fiction, it’s a novel (might be fun!) Roy Dimond SILENCE AND CIRCUMSTANCES

    About Agatha Christie’s disappearance.

    ________________________________

  5. I love to research too lol. My best friend is usually Google, but I’ve also bought books to get the experience. I’m yet to try a class on archery or horse riding or something cool like that. Living in the digital world has its perks though, because most of the time I just watch videos so I can put my own spin to whatever I witnessed.

    1. Oh, yeah! YouTube is super helpful, lol. The Internet is amazing.
      My sister and I have a list of different classes we want to take for “experience.” If anything, it gets us out and doing something.

  6. I “parked” this post until I could read it carefully to get inside your brain (and thus, get inside my students'( who are about your age) brains. So you can see, I’ve done my research!

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