Today I’m somewhere in the Gila National Wilderness or someplace just as wild. No entry today about the day.
Topic of the Morning: Write What You Know — Seriously?
Uh, no. Bad advice. Maybe the baddest advice ever, and I mean that in the old sense of “baddest,” before we started dumbing down the language. I mean “worst.”
It’s bad advice because the connotation is that you should write ONLY what you know.
So what? You’re supposed to write what you DON’T know?
Yes. Of course. You should also write what you know, but not ONLY what you know.
If everyone wrote only what they know, there would be very little science fiction, zero science fantasy (or other fantasy, for that matter), very little mystery, very little suspense, and so on.
Can you write a police procedural if you’ve never been a cop? Of course.
Can you write a spy/thriller if you’ve never worked for the CIA? Yep.
Can you write a romance novel if you’ve never been involved with a “shuddering, heaving breast” or a guy with flowing hair, broad shoulders, a thick chest with just the right amount of hair on it and trim, athletic hips? Yep.
If you couldn’t, novels wouldn’t exist.
All you need is Interest. If you’re Interested in writing Science Fiction, create a character, give him a problem, and drop him into a setting. What happens first? Shrug. I don’t know. He’s your character. All I know is he has to solve the problem. (This might not be “the” problem of the story. Just a problem to get the character/situation started.)
If you’re interested in writing Mystery, create a character, give him a problem, and drop him into a setting. In this case, it’s a good idea if the problem is the body the character just found. (grin)
If you’re interested in writing Romance, create a character (or two), give him a problem, and drop him into a setting.
Beginning to notice a trend here?
All you need to begin a story (of any length) is a character with a problem in a setting. That’s it. By and large, the setting determines the genre. Most characters and most problems can be cherry picked from one setting and dropped into another. And you’ll write an entirely different story in an entirely different genre.
If you don’t believe me, try it.
And what do I mean by “setting”? For purposes of this Topic, the setting is where the character suddenly realizes he has a problem. The smaller and more focused the setting, the better.
More on setting tomorrow while I’m not here. (grin)
For now, create a character, give him a problem, and drop him into a setting. Then write an opening. The opening will be around 300 to 500 words, probably. Be sure to include the character’s sense of the setting (sight, smell, taste, feel, sound) and have him solve the problem or get underway solving it.
If the opening takes off (most of the time it will take off), just write the next sentence. Then write the next sentence. Then write the next sentence until the character leads you to the end of your new short story, novella, or novel.
If the opening sags out and dies, so what? Toss it. Then either write it again from scratch (if you like the idea) or create a character, give him a problem, drop him into a setting and write another opening. (grin)
Okay, tomorrow, a lot more on setting.
No writing today, probably. I’m out in the boonies somewhere refilling my well of experience. And LOVING it. (grin)
Fiction Words: XXXX
Writing of Book 9 of the Wes Crowley saga
Day 1…… 3213 words. Total words to date….. 3213 words
Day 2…… 1046 words. Total words to date….. 4259 words
Day 3…… 1858 words. Total words to date….. 6117 words
Day 4…… 1023 words. Total words to date….. 7140 words
Day 5…… 1587 words. Total words to date….. 8327 words
Day 6…… X943 words. Total words to date….. 9270 words
Day 7…… 1084 words. Total words to date….. 10354 words
Day 8…… 1056 words. Total words to date….. 11410 words
Day 9…… XXXX words. Total words to date….. XXXXX words
I’m gonna leave up the numbers for ol’ Wes while my subconscious continues to turn the story over. If it doesn’t perk up and get with it pretty soon though, I’ll send Wes out behind the barn to think about what he’s done while I’m writing some other stuff.
Total fiction words for the month…………… 1590
Total fiction words for the year……………… 466631