Thursday, October 2, 2014

Write From Your Everyday Experiences and Knowledge

What makes the best writers?  Is it perfect grammar? Is it having a way with words? Is it being highly educated in the English language or whatever language you write in?  All of these things help, but the answer is NO.  What makes the best writers?  It is people who write what they know and experience.

A good example would be Clive Cussler who writes adventure stories surrounding History and water.  He is an underwater archaeologist.  Another example would be Jane Austen.  Some people believe she wrote romance stories.  She did not.  What she actually wrote was the shenanigans of what went on in her everyday life.  There just so happened to be some romance involved in the nonsense that went on in her circle of friends and family.   Hemingway wrote of his experiences around the world.  That’s what makes his stories so compelling.  Another example is Zane Gray who wrote about cowboys and the West.

Of course there are exceptions to this rule.  One would be the genre of science fiction.  This is stuff made up from someone’s imagination.  And boy, do some people have an imagination.  A good example would be Frank Herbert who wrote the Dune Trilogy.  The other genre would be fantasy.  Again, people writing in this genre write about things they have made up.  A good example for a fantasy writer would be Hans Christian Anderson.

So, what am I telling you?  It’s simple.  If you are writing a medical novel then you should know something about the medical field and then use your experiences while working in medicine.  You want to write novels set in the West and you’ve never been, then go visit.  Phyllis A. Whitney did just that.  She wanted to set a book in a certain city or country she would go and live there for six months.  She would get the feel of the place, get maps, and walk everywhere.  Her daughter would go with her and be her secretary.  She wrote at least one book a year from 1947 to 1994, totally more than 60 novels.  Her last novel was published when she was in her 90s.

But on the other hand, if you want to write a novel that involves murder, DO NOT become a murderer.  Read a lot on local murders in your area, talk with a detective and read books by others who write murder novels.  This is one area where I will tell you, you do not need experience in, in order to write about it.

The next thing you need to do is to buy a small notebook with lined paper and an elastic band that keeps it closed.  That way the pages don’t get mangled.  Keep it in your purse or your backpack or in your pocket.  When you see something or hear something or experience something, you can write it down.  You don’t have to write it down exactly how it happened, just the gist of it.  Sometimes when writing, you’re not sure of what your character is to do next.  That is when you can open your notebook and start reading about what you've seen, heard and done.  You may find exactly what you need.

Also, along with a journal in your purse or pocket, you should keep a notebook and pen/pencil next to your bed.  That way, when you wake from a dream, you can write it down before it disappears.  Keep that paper handy.

So, you now have experiences or you have done your research, what should you do?  You write your book of course.  I like to write down my character names and a bio on them.  Almost all of my characters will get both a first and last name.  Not all of the last names will appear in my story, but having a last name sort of completes my character.  Some people like to sit and just write whatever comes into their head.  Some people like to outline everything before they write.  That is completely up to you.  But write what you know or what you have done a good research job on and use your daily experiences in your writing.

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