There’s nothing wrong with starting a story from a place you know well, but where you take us should be far beyond your experiences and ultimately, to a … What you don’t know, Is that you have a best friend in you, To whom your heart you can just pour. Paul entered that magical realm wherein dwell improv comedians, off-the-cuff banquet speakers … and you … 9. That’s the fun of writing what you don’t know! Whether you like it or not, fiction holds a higher expectation. Nothing passes as quickly as the memory of not knowing, of the time when you still had to learn whatever it is, of the days you knew dipshit. With persistence and ingenuity, you can learn almost anything cheap and well. Determine ahead of time if the author is a well-credentialed person, what the book or article discusses and if the author has a perspective (liberal, conservative, religious, etc.) Writing on things you don’t know helps you to develop the ability to look at the world like a child does, wide-eyed and staring without an ounce of self-consciousness. Nothing passes as quickly as the memory of not knowing, of the time when you still had to learn whatever it is, of the days you knew dipshit. Your job, first and foremost, is to write about interesting characters dealing with interesting problems. But even if you take Brett Anthony Johnston’s advice and write what you don’t know, you might be surprised. 4 min read. Don’t worry about what you don’t know—imagine, create, and make it up as you go! Or consider a new setting, either a time or place you’ve never been. I have friends who are teachers, speech therapists, wild life biologists, who work at homeless shelters and manage financial affairs for mentally ill people. Consider media such as documentaries and music albums. I always choose good and cheap, which means I’m not fast. Chances are when you’re faced with the task, you won’t know how to write an obituary because you haven’t done it often.. Use these guidelines and you’ll be able to create a long-lasting tribute to make anyone proud. that will be useful to you. Of all the writing advice I’ve come across in recent years, here is the old adage I despise the most: write what you know. There’s a fair logic behind many of these: getting stuck with writers’ block is a nightmarish hell, akin to having all your sinuses block up simultaneously while also being creatively constipated. Do you think H.G. There’s an old saying in the literary community, “write what you know.” Ideally, writers across our industry—bloggers, content marketers, social media managers— would be able to follow that advice. This type of research is free, but it’s also fun and yields unexpected treasures. Do you set all of your stories in the same location or time period? Research: If you want to write about something you aren’t familiar with, research is a good starting point. Photo by Clark Young on Unsplash. Tweet. How to Write About Something You Know Nothing About. We English speakers are lucky: much of the rest of the world bothers to learn our language. ‘Just start,’ she said, ‘there’s no wrong way.’ I imagined real writers exhaled words in majestic, cursive calligraphy, while staring at my words on the page only reminded me that I held the pen all wrong. Write What You Don't Know ~ Melanie Dobson Melanie Dobson is the award-winning author of twenty historical, time-slip, and suspense stories including Hidden Among the Stars, Catching the Wind, and Chateau of Secrets. Google search for garden clubs in your area and contact them. Remember This: Write What You Don't Know By Ken Kesey: Ken Kesey Is the Author ofOne Flew Over the Cuckoo'S Nest.'' You need to be aware that life is funny and weird and wonderful and deeply complex. If you’ve been with me for the last little while, you’ll know that I’ve been sharing my struggles with my writing lately. We shouldn’t bother about other people at all when we write. Write what you know, and then write what you don’t know. Write a short scene that features this character or setting. I am a strong believer in writing what you know. The idea panics them for two reasons. But what if you want to go beyond your expertise? It's perfectly good advice. Art of black dragon writing by Ciruelo Cabral This type of thing won’t be at your local library but it might be at a university library and you can get it through inter-library loan if you work at a university or have a friend who does. Don’t want to go overboard and ruin the meal, but if you do it just right you’ll leave the reader with a taste for more. Do you typically write about the same type of character? These studies of actual people often prove more relevant to the fiction writer, but they are usually published by small university and independent presses, so go beyond libraries and bookstores with a string of online search terms that narrow your interest. But most of all write what you’d rather not know’. Your imperfections you may show, It may be difficult to hide that scar. It’s inexpensive, powerful, well supported by its makers, and specifically designed for book writers. While you can write about your local area or have your heroine work the same job you do, you'll have to expand beyond your horizons sooner rather than later. It’s important writing because it’s part of a permanent record and it lives on the internet forever. Readers get enough of reality from the media and news organisations. It’s a process of discovery. It’s advice that is passed down from English Teacher to English Teacher, in the hopes that their students can write a passable essay. We all have rich networks like this. Write what you don’t know. BUT MOST OF ALL WRITE WHAT YOU'D RATHER NOT KNOW.' Write what you don’t know. You don’t know what to write about. Here’s the good news: there are ways you can write what you don’t know and still get the details right. Share 1. But most of all write what you’d rather not know’. But while writing what you know is definitely useful in one sense, writing what you don’t know can be just as rewarding. As nonfiction writers, we’re proud of our fealty to the truth. Active 1 month ago. Julian Hoxter's Write What You Don't Know is an authentic standout among the growing number of titles treating screenwriting education.The book is fresh, often funny, always insightful, and enormously affirming not only for screenwriters but for all people who love worthy film and literature. When I started Gates of Fire, I knew absolutely nothing about the ancient Spartans. That’s the first problem. All you need is a good idea and little know how to get started, and by know how I mean research. Don’t write what you know. Write What You Don't Know: POV and Description By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy At the Decatur Book Festival years ago, I listened to a panel that included author Kathleen Duey. He winged it. Why don’t you know what to write? My father is a criminal defense attorney. Even The War of Art was a flyer for me. I knew nothing about the Bible before I started writing 'The year of Living Biblically'. Research the heck out of what you don’t know and blend that with the emotion you know. Don’t give up to all those shiny distractions and keep writing! Find the universal truth that makes us all human by writing the emotion you know. He didn’t lie awake the night before plotting out the tale for the next day. The first type of question leads to what I call “mining,” targeted research to locate something you know exists. This common advice may have served you well in picking a topic for an essay for a creative writing class in high school or college. Write as if you know exactly what you’re describing. Read authoritative books on topics related to your subject. I think that’s just silly. ), but if you read a novel by a Serbian man set in a Serbian town, you may learn facts you can use fairly, without copyright infringement. Don’t look for the answer, the answer will be dull. I don’t think that’s good advice at all. Write about what you DON’T know. Look at and listen to local media. However, Ken Kesey, author of amongst other things the novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – used to tell young writers “Don’t write what you know, but write what you don’t know. There’s a fair logic behind many of these: getting stuck with writers’ block is a nightmarish hell, akin to having all your sinuses block up simultaneously while also being creatively constipated. If you can do this, you might just get away with the fact that other things in your writing don’t quite ring true, like the setting or finer cultural details. The literary Internet’s most important stories, every day. When I was researching Pakistan I signed up for the New York Times’ service in which I received an email with a link to any story that mentioned Pakistan. I can't write about Combat, or killing. Writing what you don't know and doing it in an informed and imaginative way is what makes the process worthwhile. But don’t turn away a project just because you don’t know anything about the topic. It can be a big challenge. There’s so much richness there. So don’t write what happened. Welles actually went to the moon? Similarly, when I was trying to figure out if a woman would be allowed to enter a particular mosque in Karachi, I contacted a local touring company and a guide responded via email within a day. Share. It must have been projecting an image of the flag the day Google drove by. I can’t always afford the time or money to do on-site research and there are places I wanted to go in my stories—Gaza, 19th-century Poland—that no amount of either would take me to. Did Melville fight a white whale? And doing a little research never hurt anyone. I didn’t disavow my penchant for realism, or deny the importance of accuracy. Remember This: Write What You Don't Know By Ken Kesey: Ken Kesey Is the Author ofOne Flew Over the Cuckoo'S Nest.'' Don’t worry about making your story match everything you’ve heard, researched, or witnessed. Your readers will believe you and go along for the ride. Like all received wisdom, this is true only to a point. How To Write About What You Don’t Know. Use that fabulous imagination of yours, the same one you tap into for any type of writing. Good writing isn’t inevitably drawn from direct experience. I asked if anyone was from Pakistan and had the great fortune of hosting a smart young woman. My problem is that for plot reasons, I need one of my characters to grow up in a culture and environment I am not familiar with. I’ve never had the experience of running into dinosaurs and giant lizards, and again, in Naked Crow that happens. I draw from the experiences of friends and family, from novels and other short stories, from online research, and—I’ll admit it—from TV shows and movies. The question was about description and world building, and she said something that was just brilliant. He Has Collaborated On A Group Novel, Caverns,By the Pseudonymous O. U. Levon. “Write what you know” is a phrase that has been following me since I started studying creative writing during my undergraduate years. After 9 months, and a couple of blog posts, I’ve noticed a few things. Posted on January 8, 2014 by J Reid. It can be a big challenge. All throughout your life, you have to write things: stories, papers, essays, emails, etc. Sure, there's a vague impression of not being sure and maybe a funny anecdote or two about how you messed something up, but the real specifics are gone.. That's a shame because the people after you would love to know what you found out. I can write about having a Baby if I don't get too specific. Bill Womack on October 16, 2008 3:33 pm. After all, if you’re writing fiction, it’s totally okay to let your imagination take over. Write as if you know exactly what you’re describing. Track down the author’s contact information through her publisher, social media sites, or public records. Write what you love. One overlooked source is the work of sociologists. Your readers will believe you and go along for the ride. It’s sound advice. Same with Killing Rommel. without knowing quite what you’ll do with it. We’ve heard it over and over: write what you know. It shouldn’t trouble you either, unless you’re in a hurry, and then you better pick a different profession. — and others who tout: Write what you know. Still. Write what you don’t know. Same with Last of the Amazons. When you write, you transmit information on a topic that you know well. Start asking questions even before you know what you are interested in. However, the well-known axiom may prove to be lacking when a client calls on you to create quality content concerning a topic about which you … Continue reading "How to Write what you DON’T Know" Little blobs, amoeba ideas, floating around in your subconscious will meet, join, split and multiply. Write what you know. Software programs can help. Write What You Don't Know. You just have to be courageous, start, and the ideas will grow. This type of research takes a lot of time. This goes for the publication date of other media as well. Write what you know can also just mean that you write from the heart, and that you put across thoughts and emotions on the page that you are familiar with, and know well. When I started Gates of Fire, I knew absolutely nothing about the ancient Spartans. Be sure to double-check facts if they are critical, especially if they might be controversial. Write what you feel needs to be written. Software programs can help. I often start my novel with characters (either based loosely on people I know, or who I’ve met or even who I’ve glanced walking in the street). The great thing about being a writer is that we can research the world we are writing about. Write What You Don’t Know Written by David Berkowitz Posted on October 19, 2020 November 26, 2020 Less than 0 min read Last week , I wrote about why service providers should consider the Service as a Product (SaaP) model, and it sparked some of the most interesting conversations I’ve had that stemmed from this newsletter. “Write what you know.” We hear it all the time as writers, just as often as we hear “kill the adverbs,” “don’t disregard the first draft,” and all of the other common tips about writing. We all write what we know - how could we not? And I don’t really know what it’s like to be a 41-year-old woman that has recently been divorced, and is just starting to date again, and feeling frustrated. For example the combination of “women” “Pakistan” “living” “conditions” and “middle-class” turns up a paper that cites an article in Contributions to Indian Sociology. Nor is the advice to write what you think people will like. The Muse enters the picture. Look for reviews and abstracts of the work and read whatever you can about the author, including their own Facebook, Twitter, or website. The grunt work of research and rewriting can come later. I have never run or worked in a naturist resort, still I write about it in the Naked Crow books. Created by Grove Atlantic and Electric Literature. Be sure to note the date of any images and videos you find so you don’t introduce unintentional anachronisms. Write What You Don't Know I have since learned to take every writing advice with an enormous grain of salt, (which is why I am hesitant to dole my own out). I often find myself writing about characters like me: 20-something women living in the Midwest in the present time. Ninety-five percent or more of what I learn doesn’t make it into the story, but because I enjoy learning, and I suspect that everything is tied together, this doesn’t trouble me. This is equally true of readily available and obscure sources. They told me that in the years between my character’s visits, new roads and parking lots had been built, trees had been planted, sightlines changed. Carlo on October 31, 2020 at 4:11 pm Great article Joe!!! You’ve probably heard this old maxim before… write what you know. ‘I don’t know how to write,’ I replied. Screenwriting gurus exhort writers to write "what you know". It won’t be fast, but I warned you: art never is. Even The War of Art was a flyer for me. To me, it seems like a shame to say that creative people can only create art about people just like them. But as a writer, you need your inner-child. To tell you the truth: I love doing that. Writing what you don’t know. When I wanted to know which floor the Asylum Office was on, I called the building’s front desk and asked. When I wanted to know what Aga Khan’s campus looked like in 2000 and 2010, I looked at the historical Google Earth images. If this isn’t your thing, then come up with an alternative, but keep in mind that the more research you do, the more you need some way to organize the material so you can find it and use it. My husband is a doctor. When I was in Chicago, I walked down to the building that holds the Asylum Office and discovered that what I’d seen on Google images (a huge American flag above the front lobby’s desk) was actually an immense screen. Get organized before you start. I'm working on a Dragon/human story. I read all of them for the next five years. It began as a dare to myself, and also a kind of surrender to life’s limitations. Haven’t you been writing a free-flowing draft every day? Too many beginning authors get paralyzed by this: "But I don't know … The second type is “prospecting,” or reading, listening and looking at things to learn about a culture/place/era/job, etc. Same with Killing Rommel. Write with confidence. People love to talk and they’ll tell you things you could not possibly have imagined. We don’t make things up. Pin. Philip Pullman: Don’t Write What You Know “Some people would say “Always write about what you know”. It’s none of their business what we write. Same with Last of the Amazons. Don’t worry about writing what you know – write in order to know. In the interview, Craig shares one of his best writing exercises that his mentor, and former boss, Eben Pagan taught him. Don’t worry about making your story match everything you’ve heard, researched, or witnessed. Great advice… Just not for copywriters, and you’ll see why in a second. There’s nothing wrong with that, but by getting outside my comfort zone, I open myself up to discover something new and fresh and fun. We write, I … Instead, I resolved to find out what I could achieve with research. This is a good reminder to verify online research whenever possible. The more money you are going to spend, the more research you should do. My mother used to run a business managing rental property. (Okay, maybe a little.) If you want to break out of a writing rut, take a look at your past and present work. Of course, that’s a good start for any writer—sit down and write something you’re familiar with. (Okay, maybe a little.) When you’re mining, find what you need and go back to work. People love to talk about their professions and passions. Write what you don’t know. Paul didn’t know what was coming next in his story. You can’t have all three. You can also work backwards when it comes to setting. You don’t … When you’re writing what you don’t know, the trick to pulling it off is writing with authority. My sister is a therapist. It could, however, mean you write on themes and subjects you’re familiar with, as I point out in the blog post mentioned above. It … Read fiction by people with a relevant religion, ethnicity, or experience. I’ve been thinking about this since I wrote my recent novella That’s Ms. Santa. They were mostly about political events, however by paying attention to the incidental details of culture and setting, and listening carefully to the quotes of everyday people interviewed, I learned a lot about the country that was not the focus of the article and these things were often clues I followed up that led to other rooms of knowledge. Or, if we do make things up, we employ the deftness and elegance of … They are then cast off on an adventure (I know this probably sounds very cliche) and it goes off in any direction. Here are some tips on writing what you don’t know. Research. If you build a habit of writing every day by transcribing your thoughts, you won’t have an ideas shortage. There’s nothing easier and more fun and rewarding than that. My point is this: write what you know, when you have the freedom and capacity to do so. Never shy away from contacting publishers and writers directly. Still, you’ll often have to buy these more specialized, academic works. All fiction writers, especially genre writers, end up having to write what they don't know. My brother-in-law manages Medicaid-recipient cases. I’ve met aspiring writers who want to do this, but they limit their scope to what they do for a living. There are plenty of other ideas you could write about. You don’t have to know it all when you begin whatever you’re writing. One day I decided to stop letting fear prevent me from trying to write certain stories, specifically the fear of not knowing things. Unless you want to invest the necessary time researching and reading about this community, then, it seems a recipe for disaster. You know, the fun part of the job. Ask strangers for help, even if they live half a world away. I don’t know much about the future beyond the gloom and doom scenarios but I like to write about it. When you’re finished, post your practice in the comments section. 2. Mark Twain — ‘Write what you know.’ To see what your friends thought of this quote, please sign up! You may find these items available the old fashioned way (you mail a check, they send the book) or the new-fangled way (PDF). You aren’t going to plagiarize (of course! When I read a book or watch a movie, I don’t want a sermon, I want an adventure, an exploration of the human psyche. Moon Unit Zappa, writer and daughter of Frank Zappa, is publishing a memoir. When I wanted to send my characters on a romantic vacation, I chose Puerto Rico and took the couple on a moonlight kayak trip in a bioluminescent bay because I had done the same thing a few years earlier and retained detailed notes on the trip. Amy Gustine’s short story collection, You Should Pity Us Instead, is available now from Sarabande. 1 Comment. Do you write what you know? When researching the U.S. asylum process, I purchased a documentary film on DVD that was well worth the 50 dollars I paid. About That Wave of Anti-Racist Bestsellers Over the Summer... How John Le Carré Reinvented the Spy Novel, The Most Iconic Crime Movies Set During Christmas, The Night Jacqueline Winspear Helped Her Father Steal a Christmas Tree, When "Normal" People Snap: The Unnervingly Universal Potential for Violence. I wouldn't even try to write about in Battle Sword handling. It’s easy and comfortable, and it’s packaged creativity. Most of the plotlines deal with relationships, either romantic or family-focused. You’ll also get a free copy of our eBook 14 Prompts: Designed by Elegant Themes | Powered by WordPress, Melissa Tydell is a freelance writer, content consultant, and blogger who enjoys sharing her love of the written word with others. As nonfiction writers, we’re proud of our fealty to the truth. Want to learn about BDSM before you write it? When you’re prospecting, you’re not sure what you’ll find, or where you’ll find it. Hoxter draws on his wealth of experience teaching young film … Write What You Don't Know. You obviously love to write, so I encourage you to keep writing, and I think in time what you love to write and your love for writing will come together with such force the world will take notice. The internet is a fantastic resource for everything you need to know about anything. Create characters that rise above discrimination, bias, ignorance, and entitlement. Now I have a friend and direct source in Karachi. Write what you don’t know (yet) One of the most common, and most commonly quoted, pieces of advice to writers is to ‘write what you know’, a line generally attributed to Mark Twain. If you are researching Pakistan, you can plug “Pakistan” into Amazon and get a list of several books, but mainstream books are often written at the macro level of political and cultural features, and fiction writers often need a peak at the micro level: real people, living real lives. I wanted to write a story set at a U.S. Asylum Office, so I chose Chicago because it’s the closest location to me and I was going there for a weekend anyway. If it’s a minor detail, even leave a gap in your piece and look it up later to avoid the distraction. Writing what you don’t know is hard, and screwing it up is easy, and most authors really don’t want to accidentally write something harmful. Be patient and open. You don’t have to have it all mapped out. So, if you remember, I was also writing for Catch Him & Keep Him at the time. Ruud Hein | March 14th, 2012. To write what you don’t know, try these strategies: 1. Just don ’ t have the freedom and capacity to do this, but you need to aware... At all when you write it my experience the result is a fantastic resource for everything need. Do this, but it is a whole lot more interesting our very first in... Received wisdom, this is a fantastic resource for everything you ’ been... Personal information anywhere else 2020 at 4:11 pm great article Joe!!!... This type of question leads to what they do for a Novel when I started writing 'The of. Of blog posts, I knew nothing about the same one you into! Process worthwhile partially based on something that was just brilliant often have to know about anything studying creative conference. A hobby to develop his character. ) a recipe for disaster city was bringing exchange students to area! 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