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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Author Insight: Write what you know?

Do you agree with the old “write what you know’ adage?

"Well, I guess that would be way better than the “write what you don’t know” adage.
I think to a point, write what you know makes sense, but it’s also about letting go of reality, otherwise we’d all be writing non-fiction. And, for me, it made sense to write for teens since I’ve had teens in the house forever, so I’ve spent a lot of time eavesdropping listening to them. (I like to call it research!)." - Kim Derting, author of The Body Finder.


"Yes because "write what you know" means you should write as deeply and with as much connection as you are personally capable of. Too many people think it's limiting (like doctors should only write about characters in a hospital or something of the sort). I view "write what you know" as a challenge. I must always know (or learn) more to write even more authentically." - Shannon Delany, author of 13 to Life: A Werewolf's Tale.


"I’m more of a fan of “write *to* know”. I write to understand more about people and my world. I write to discover." - Tiffany Trent, author of the Hallowmere series.

"Yes and no. People write incredible novels about fantasy places or times long ago. I’d switch it around and say, 'Know what you’re writing about.'" - Amy Brecount White, author of Forget-Her-Nots.

"Sort of. I think, write what your heart knows. Write what won’t let you go." - Holly Cupala, author of Tell Me a Secret.

"The more writers I get to know personally, the more I realize we all do it without even realizing. And even though my books about a family of witches who practice magic, it absolutely incorporates my own experiences." - Rhonda Hayter, author of The Witchy Worries of Abbie Adams.

"Absolutely. Although lots of writers also write what they don't know & do it beautifully. I think you should write the story you want to tell, in the way you feel confident telling it. "Write what you know" is just another writing rule to me, and I don't believe you have to follow a particular set of rules to be a writer. Make your own rules." - Kami Garcia, co-author of Beautiful Creatures.


"Not really. I think you should write what you want to read, and I think you should write what you're drawn to, because that passion is more constructive than a simple 'knowing'. If you know something, you might be less inclined to push yourself, and I think sometimes books actually suffer from being in the author's comfort zone." - Victoria Schwab, author of The Near Witch.

"Writing what you know can definitely bring some authenticity to your work, but I think it's more important to write about what you're passionate about." - Denise Jaden, author of Losing Faith.

"I'm a huge research fanatic and one hundred percent convinced that you can find out anything you want to know if you just put in the time. When it comes to fiction, I firmly believe that you should know what you're talking about, but there's no reason you have to know *before* you start writing. Write what you know, and if you don't know, then by all means, find out. If no one knows, then make it up." - Brenna Yovanoff, author of The Replacement.


"I prefer Yusef Komunyakaa's take on it: 'Write what you are willing to discover.'" - Swati Avashti, author of Split.

"Not really. I write to experience things I haven't or won't experience. Anytime someone mentions that I should write about a funny or interesting story that happened to me, I shrug it off. Having already lived through it, I'm usually not interested in writing about it." - Alexandra Diaz, author of Of All The Stupid Things.

 "I don't think it's necessarily bad advice, but I certainly don't think it's necessary for every writer. It depends a lot on the book you're trying to write. (Given that my book is about an immortal shapeshifter in a medieval-style kingdom, it's clearly advice I didn't follow!) Matt Sharpe, a writing instructor at a workshop I once took, quoted Howard Nemerov as saying, 'Write what you know. That should leave you with a lot of free time.'"  - Leah Cypess, author of Mistwood.

"I think writing what you know gives a story believability and a feeling that it's 'honest.' (That's one of my favorite things, reading a book and going, 'Wow, this book is so... honest. *sigh*') But I don't think that means you have to only ever write about things that have happened to you. You can write what you know emotionally--being frightened by a vicious dog isn't really that different from being frightened by a dragon, is it?--and extrapolate that into something new. You can take what you do know and mold it into something else." - Chelsea Campbell, author of The Rise of Renegade X.

"Absolutely. No matter what you write, it has to feel authentic. If you’re forcing something you’re not familiar/comfortable with, it’s going to show. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t expand our horizons as authors, but if you want to write about something outside your comfort zone, research until it is in your comfort zone." - Lisa Desrochers, author of Personal Demons.

Come back Thursday to find out if the rest of our authors believe you should "write what you know"! 

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