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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Write What You Know?

This post will be quite light-hearted and I admit, it peaked my interest based upon a thread running on Indie Writer's Unite. There is an old adage that we as authors should write what we know. Why, you ask, well, apparently if we tax our brains too much on subjects we don't know, suspension of disbelief will be lost and all we will produce is a bunch of drivel.

Say what?

I'm assuming Frank Herbert, James Patterson, Dean Koontz and Stephen King are writing what they know.

Mr. Herbert had the opportunity of exploring different galaxies and created a whole series behind it. You might have heard of the first novel in the series as it was a highly successful 80s film with a young Kyle MacLachlan, Sting (aka real name Gordon Sumner) et al called Dune.

We just know James Patterson writes what he knows. Not only has been been a black cop/former FBI agent who resides in Washington D.C. but he has also been an Irish Catholic police officer on the force in NY City, and a female police officer in San Francisco; in all three of his previous lives, he's dealt with more than his fair share of crazies, serial killers, et cetera.

Dean Koontz must be totally off his rocker, poor thing. I don't blame him for turning to religion; I would have too if I'd lived his life. Not only has he been haunted by the government (yep, it's always the "Man" trying to hold us down, y'all!) but he has been chased by aliens and seen demons hiding in people's bodies not to mention he has toyed around with some very disturbing serial killers who like to kill for sport, including his sex-change operation stint as a young Hollywood actress who was hunted by not one but two serial killing identical brothers from the wine country in California.

Poor Stephen King, the man must be mad as a hatter. Not only has he dealt with crazies and vampires but he has written of giant rats, a red-neck town taken over by aliens and he has met one of the Devil's minions himself and lived to tell about it. Then there are just all those wacky short stories he writes and we all remember how he suffered at the hands of his "number one" fan. It's nice to know medicine has really come far and he was able to make full use of his legs after what that crazy woman did to him. Do any of you people remember Misery? Everyone knows that was based upon his life as a number-one best-selling author!

Okay, you all get my point. I just find it a bit too hard to write what I know. I actually like doing research, believe it or not. I like exploring the deep secrets of Hollywood but the paranormal world is just as exciting. No, I have never been any of the characters I have written but I have faked them all quite well.

If I wrote only what I knew, all my stories would be sappy poetry the queens of Country music would froth at the mouth to turn into those heartbreaking songs we all know too well. My life, in the best possible way for me to phrase this, is a bit of a Lifetime movie and as I have lived it, well, I don't particularily want to go down memory lane again, you know what I mean?

So, I'll stick to what I am good at: making stuff up. It's easy and with countless research and a good plot, suspension of disbelief takes care of itself. The joys of being a writer: really, when you write, there are no hard and fast rules, and to me, that is just pure poetry!

Question of the Blog Day: Should authors only write what they know?
***All those who answer automatically qualify for a copy of my new novelette, Forever 27 (The 27 Club series) on an ebook format of your choice***

 What I am Reading: Morgan Bailey is in a world of trouble and this time, if she doesn't solve an earth-shattering mystery, a race of creatures thought to be extinct will be in very real trouble of the myth becoming a reality. Great reading and impossible for me to put down. Yeah, I'm drawing it out but it's like that with Shea MacLeod's novels. I don't *quite* like them to end.
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/82621
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Kissed-Fire-Sunwalker-Saga-ebook/dp/B005I58P1S
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/kissed-by-fire-shea-macleod/1105160405

Added to my TBR List:
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/87158
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Black-Fashion-Avenue-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B005MEG38C
Exclusively on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Life-But-Dream-Grace-ebook/dp/B004JU21YU

Note: I mistakenly attributed Dune to L. Ron Hubbard when it was in fact Frank Herbert. I thank Mr. Ahsanuddin for noticing the error.


Laura Eno said...

I don't see a problem with writing what I know...I spend all my time in the otherworld, the future, distant galaxies, conjuring magic, etc. *snarf*

Unknown said...

Laura, agreed. I just don't think authors should be *limited* to writing what they know. There is absolutely nothing wrong with women's literature, coming of age stories, et cetera. It adds a little spice to an otherwise dull universe of vampires, witches, warlocks, faeries et cetera. I love reading about alternate universes but sometimes a little reality can also be very soothing as well. :-)

Arshad Ahsanuddin aka @pactarcanum said...

It's as nonsensical to only write what you know as to only read what you know. Life would be awfully boring without any imagination.

Unknown said...

Agreed, Arshad. Thank you for pointing out the mistake about Dune and Frank Herbert. It's been one of those weeks. I love to read all genres and I love to write about all different kinds of subjects. It is part of the fun of being an indie writer. ;-)