Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Writing Tips 101

I thought I would do a few posts about writing tips that have helped me.

This week I want to focus on: Writing What You Know

What does this mean to you? For me, not much. I'm not sure whether that reflects on how much I know, so I'll deny it either way. At first, I thought it meant what I do every day. As a stay-at-home mom... does that mean I have to write about kids or laundry?

No, it doesn't.

Okay, so what else do I know? Besides the intimate workings of Jack Bauer's life or the plot of every episode of Friends? (I tried writing about these things, it's not allowed... my lawyer is still trying to get me out of that mess. :P )

Write What You Know means two things. First, it means write what is familiar and comfortable to you as a writer. Write what you enjoy reading. As a person that never really grew up--I knew YA was the place for me. Other women love romance, I avoid it at all costs (Still, it is an insidious thing, before I knew it there was a kissing scene in my book... ewww).

The point is, write where you are comfortable and know your audience. Write the book you want to read.

The second meaning of Write What You Know is: Know What You Write. Research is a writer's best friend... (besides Microsoft Word, right Shanti?) If you don't know something that you want to write, learn it. If you want to write about something that doesn't exist, create it. (Not literally, the fire department frowns upon the creation of miniature civilizations in your basement. Don't ask how I know. I mean, you might get away with it if those civilizations aren't based on a volatile gas--butane, methane, acetylene for starters could be considered bad choices... The fire department has a lot of rules, let's just leave it at that.)

The point is, know your world--inside and out. Follow these tips, it will make your life as a writer significantly easier and you'll save a lot of expenses in lawyer fees and damages.


  1. If I had to write from my knowledge base my stories may end up kinda dull. But like you said if I write what I love then maybe other people will want to read it too.

    Thanks for your writing tips and inspiration.

  2. My writing is definitely inspired by my own experiences. I chose YA because I had a lot of interesting things happen to me and to the people I knew when I was young. Also, I have two teenagers, soon to be three. I get a good feel for how teenager talk and relate to each other from them. I've tried to write outside my comfort zone, and it just doesn't work for me.

  3. ROFL, great and funny post! I appreciate your humor.

    And your tips are good ones. It's good to see the thought expounded upon, because each writer can use "write what you know" in their own way.

  4. I think writing what you know can also be the emotional aspects too. I personally think it would be really hard for me to write a story about drug addiction. I just don't understand those feelings and motivations.

    But. Feeling like a dork in front of your first crush? Yeah, I know exactly what that feels like...

  5. I write what I WANT to know. ;-) My friend Diane coined that phrase and I rather like it!

  6. Know What You Write. I think that's the more accurate version of it. These days we have volumes of research at our fingertips. We can contact people in whatever field we're writing and have questions answered. We can join e-mail loops and forums, read blogs on the subject, etc. There's not really any excuse for getting it wrong.

  7. I am passing an award your way to add to your blog bling. You deserve.

  8. Great tips! And so totally true about the fire department. I tried writing a scene once with paramedics, and realized very fast that I know absolutely nothing about what paramedics do in their little van of tricks. So yeah. :)

  9. Amber Lynae - Thanks for the blog award! And, yes, always write what you love

    Lazy Writer - Wow, with all that YA fodder I might have to come camp out at your house for a weekend :)

    Janna - Yay! Someone who gets my odd sense of humor. We are a rare breed. :P

    Natalie - I totally agree, the emotional aspect of writing must also come from a place you know. Good point! :)

    Melissa - Great phrase! Thanks to you and Diane for sharing :)

    Stephanie - I totally agree, there's no excuse anymore for poor research. :)

    ElanaJ - Finally! Someone else who knows the behind the scenes world of emergency units :P

  10. Great advice! I like how you say write the book you want to read. That's why I write, and I make up a lot of crap along the way. I mean, try researching what the CIA REALLY does. Yeah, I have to rely on my crazy imagination for that stuff. :D

  11. Glam - haha, what? They wouldn't let you in for hands on observation? I'm shocked. :P

  12. I used to think that I would make a terrible writer because nothing exciting every happened to me. I think I took that write what you know a little too seriously. Luckily I've reached the same conclusion that you talked about in your blog.

  13. So true. I think it is so important to know backwards and forwards the world you're creating. But you don't necessarily have to pass all that on to your reader. If you know it, it is obvious.

  14. Thats why my story rocks. I've been through some crazy, tragic, beautiful, amazing, magical, awful moments in my life. Makes for great story telling. :)