Monday, February 05, 2007

I Cannot Tell a Lie

Write what you know. How many times as writers have we heard that? I’ve heard it so much I never want to hear it again.

Okay, this is what I know. I know about communications both the art and the science thereof. I know about raising kids and what a joy it is to be a Granny. I know about people and dogs. I know about all kinds of things that most of the rest of you know too. We are a very smart society.

Okay, so I know stuff.

Now, what about the things I don’t know. This list will be much longer. I don’t know how to kill a guy. I don’t know much about romance, and what I do know would bore you to tears. I know nothing about outer space or what’s under the sea, and my lack of knowledge about warp drives and hard drives boggles the mind.

Suffice it to say that I don’t know more than I do know. So, what do I write about? How do I kill someone in a work of fiction? How do I lay a clue, or put together a couple of steaming bodies and create a love scene. Better yet, how can I take you into galaxies far, far away and make you believe it, when I don’t know Orion from the Big Dipper?

Writers do it all the time and I have finally figured out how. They write what they know. I am learning what I know best for example is people. So, let me stick with that. I will write about what makes them tick and I can write it honestly and from their point of view. I am going to stick to making the people the story. Then when I need to I’ll research how to effectively commit murder and I’ll kill off one of those people I know so well. I won’t get heavy into particulars because I don’t know enough about murder to make you, as my reader believe that I do. But I can learn enough to know that the way I do it is honest.

I can go on, but you get it, right? Writing what we know becomes the theme of our work. Writing the things we don’t know is what makes the things we do know more interesting. No matter which we are writing, we must be honest with our readers. They will know in a heartbeat if we are trying to lie to them about what we know, and they will never read us again.

Now, I’m off to research what I don’t know about baseball. I don’t need to research the guy holding the bat, him I know.



Cheryl said...

Your wealth of knowledge never ceases to amaze me. What a great post.

In my Mexico story, I had the characters ready but knew nothing about the location. I found the type of tourist community I was looking for on the Internet and then I went to the hotels' websites to find out more details. That is what made my story real.

Thanks for sharing a bit of your brain with us.


Laura A. Bethuy said...

Good post,

Isn't it great that because we are writers we can spend an enormous amount of time learning the things we don't know. It's called research. I love learning and use to say I wished there was a job out there that would pay me to learn. Now I've found it.

Thanks for the insight.