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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Write What You Know? Nah!

The other day I was preparing a blog for a guest appearance spot over at Nine Naughty Novelists. I was writing about adding real life to your stories. It got me thinking of the old adage, write what you know.
I’ll admit I’ve written many stories based off of things I know.
Body Shots has a hero who is a singer. Music is my first love. Back in high school thru my early twenties I dated musicians. I know more about drums than I possibly need to. I’ve spent summer nights just attending concerts. When I was growing up in Upstate New York, every teen spent the summer at Saratoga Performing Arts Center. This was where all the good concerts took place. In 2003 when I was sowing my royal oats (I was celebrating my freedom from my ex), my best friend and I traveled all over to see concerts. In fact once at 5pm on a Saturday night we drove from Albany NY to the Comcast Center in MA (it was the Tweeter Center back then) to see Disturbed and Korn. A three hour drive one way AND we drove back home after the concert. Okay, so we were a little crazy what can I say.
Splashing Good Time the hero owns his own pool company. I’ve been in the business in the past and again in my present, someone close to me owns a few pool stores.
Gettin’ Lucky my heroine owns her own grocery store. My ex-husband and I owned a corner grocery store for almost ten years. And like Marcy, my heroine, the store was in a poor section of town.
Another story that will be published under my real name is about a woman’s journey to motherhood. She’s not taking the conventional way. After finding herself single, because her ex-fiancĂ© doesn’t want children, Hailey decides to take out an ad for a sperm donor.
Granted I’ve never taken out an ad, but I’ve journeyed through the fertility process – more times than I’d like to admit. So I can add those little details to my story that make it that much more believable. Obviously my heroine will get a HEA, but the bottom line is I KNOW fertility.
But should we always write what we know? I say NO. Eventually you’ll come to a point where you want to diversify and move in a new direction. To do this you’ll have to learn something new and experiment. That’s what I plan to do.
I’m embarking on a new chapter or journey in my writing career. I’m taking on a subject and genre that is relatively foreign to me. But guess what? I’m excited about it. I may stumble along the way and I may suck at it, but I won’t know unless I try.
I’ll be honest – I’m scared witless. But that’s the thrill. That’s how I know it’s the right time to do it.
I’ve become too comfortable in my writing. I haven’t challenged myself in a very long time. A friend has thrown down the gauntlet and I’ve accepted the challenge!
Do you only write what you know? If not, how do you step out of your comfort zone?


Marie Rose Dufour said...

I don't believe that you only have to write about what you know. If that's the case, my stuff would be totally boring. I think that at times "real life" plays a part in our stories but the beauty of writing fiction is that it is outside of our real life "boxes". Writing is limitless. So I say, keep on challenging yourself. Your readers will thank you. ;)

Mia Watts said...

I like Bronwyn Green's response to the old adage. "Why yes, I frequently have wild menage sex with three werebears."

Thank you, Bron.

Linda Kage said...

If I wrote what I knew, my writing career would be very short!! I'm not that experienced. So I just go with the write what you love theme. Good luck in your new venture. Just have fun with it, I say.

Tina Donahue said...

One famous writer - can't recall who - wrote: Write about what you know. If you don't know, find out!

That's always been my mantra. After all, I hardly live the erotic, exciting stories my heroines do. :)

Molly Daniels said...

I'm also challenging myself for two storylines, one which currently has my full attention. If we don't learn something new, we quit growing. And while doing research, sometimes you pick up unexpected readers:)

jean hart stewart said...

Hardly! Never lived a life in old England, or any of the other countries where my stories take place. Certainly never had the sexual adventures my heroines have. Not that I wouldn't like to!

Amber Skyze said...

You women rock! I'm so happy you've dropped in and shared your opinions with me.
I love Bron's response to the old adage. :)

Paris said...

I love Bron's response too! On an emotional level I think I can figure out what my characters would be feeling but background and settings are something I can research. I have to say that fantasy is probably the most fun because as long as I make it logical and believable I can create a totally fictional world--my idea of a good time (not that Bron's idea is without merit:)

Katalina Leon said...

Amber, I admire you and I think you're going to do great in your new ventures-you're ready!

Anonymous said...

I started out writing what I knew: music, stage theatre, medicine, high school teaching. Eventually, like you, I wanted to stretch my writer's wings. Fortunately I've had a lifelong love for learning (!unintentional alliteration)so I was eager to take on the task. What inspires me to tackle a new topic, subject or career for a character is generally a news article. So many people out there doing things I will never have time to do or even thought of. 18-wheel truck driving was my last foray into an unknown for me. Great fun!

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