Monday, August 18, 2008

Write What You Know

Every writer will hear those words: write what you know.

If I took that literally, I wouldn't be writing very much, thank you. Maybe I'd be a travel writer, because I like traveling in all its aspects, from the bus ride through interesting scenery, to the walk around 2,000-year-old ruins, to the thing in the picture: lazying around in a paradise-like environment.

But you don't have to take it literally. You don't have to have an expensive law degree like John Grisham to write about treacherous lawyers. I agree, it does help, and it did help him to turn his books into megabestsellers, but to me, those four words mean something else.

First of all, if you're a writer, you do more than writing, you read. And you probably like writing what you like to read. The same genre, that is. If you've been reading thrillers for decades, like me, you probably feel at home in that genre, you know the tricks of the trade. Maybe you can't list them all right away, but you can tell where they are. You know the thriller. So if you have to write what you know ... there it is. Write a thriller.

But unless you're really extremely smart, you probably can't know everything. Does that mean you have to refrain from writing certain things? If you're lazy like everyone sometimes is, then yes. Don't write about a gun firing off 9 rounds if you don't know whether it's the model that can. In the old days, when I was young, I loved browsing through encyclopedias. But today's people have it far easier. The most beautiful invention of all times in my eyes is the Internet. You can find anything on the Internet. Even how guns work. So there is no excuse anymore. If you don't want to sound stupid to those who know more than you on a certain topic, go and do your research. Write what you know. What you might not know today, you certainly could know tomorrow.

I write what I love at home, and I write what I know at home and at work, even though they are completely different things. And next, I have an idea to do something more with this blog. But first, I have to go and ask the blogmeister, Enzo Ciancia, and see what he thinks about me taking up more of his space. I let you know more later this week. See you!

By Sean Moss for S2S.


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