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Thursday, July 8, 2010

More Author Insight: Write what you know?

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

"Yes, though not literally. I believe that you have to experience things in order to tap into emotion and senses. So you can write about things you've never experienced, but you should have touchstone experiences (or things that you know that relate) in order to channel what you know into what you write." - Tessa Gratton, author of Blood Magic.

"To a point. Certainly, we have to know what love, anger, hate, and fear is, to write about it. But if you just stick to what you know, you’ll never challenge yourself, never stretch beyond your safe zone. What if I wanted to write about deep-sea diving, something I’ve never done? Would I let that stop me? No. That’s what research is for. Authors research what they don’t know all the time. The rest comes out of imagination. " - Julie Kagawa, author of The Iron King.

"HAHAHA! Well, I know enough to ask the question "What if...?" and those are where most of my stories come from. I've written tons of posts about authors having the right to write about anything and anyone; to do so humbly, thoroughly and as respectfully as possible is the best that anyone can hope for. No one should be limited by their imagination for fear of offending someone or "getting it wrong." No one can write the story the way only you can tell it; don't let YOU stop you. Write what you love, what you're passionate about, you can always ask and learn." - Dawn Metcalf, author of Skin & Bones.

"I think it depends on the writer. I think write what you're inspired to write is a better adage." - Michelle Zink, author of Prophecy of Sisters.

"For me, the answer is yes. The setting of The Tension of Opposites is my hometown in Ohio. I’ve lived in Ohio all my life and my characters usually appear in the world I know best. As a former high school English teacher (who was once a teen), I feel like teens come naturally to me. Main point: I definitely write what I know." - Kristina McBride, author of The Tension of Opposites.

"It certainly is easier to write what you know, but what’s life without a little experimentation and adventure? Honestly, my advice is always to write what you love." - Alexandra Bracken, author of Brightly Woven.


"No. If I did, I'd never write." - Janet Fox, author of Faithful.

"No. If I wrote what I knew all my books would be about shy teenage girls writing novels and blogging. Which would be boring. Everything can be researched, so I have no need to write about things I know." - Steph Bowe, author of Girl Saves Boy.

"I think that writing what you know is extremely limiting to an author, especially a fantasy author! The fantasy/sci-fi genre is about imagining a different world, not replaying what you’ve experienced. I think writing is about what you don’t know, what your mind has the capacity to create, and then adding emotions and thoughts that both the writer and the reader have experienced." -Riley Carney, author of The Fire Stone.

"Yes and no. I think its easier to write something you are familiar with, but research is something that can really help with your plot. For Change of Heart, the more I spoke with heart transplant recipients and doctors, the more ideas I had for where I wanted to take the story." - Shari Maurer, author of Change of Heart.

"Yes, because I don't think that means "limit your stories to your personal experiences." I think it means write the stories you can make resonate, write what's inside you, what makes you sing, and keeps you up at night. And in that case, I do agree. If you're writing something because you think it will sell, because you think other people want to see it, you're probably not doing your best writing. Write what you know moves YOU."  - Saundra Mitchell, author of Shadowed Summer.

"You always know both something and nothing about the world you’re creating. In Alone With All that Could Happen, David Jauss has a chapter about how fiction-y fiction often reveals more about the author than autobiographical fiction. Whatever you write will contain what you know, whether obscured or stated plainly, so I don’t think you need to choose." - Jessica Leader, author of Nice and Mean.

"To an extent. I had a creative writing teacher in college who was pretty serious about this. He wouldn't accept a short story I'd written from a guy's point of view because I wasn't a guy. But now that I'm a writer, it's not the characters or situations you have to have experienced, it's the emotions you have to draw from. Feelings are universal and I don't have to have fought off demons to know what it's like to be scared." - Suzanne Young, author of The Naughty List.

"Well, I do and I don't! I know some things about the theater, but I certainly don't know first-hand about living in one as a teenager with four fairy miscreant friends! I think it's better advice to 'start with what you know, and build on that.'" - Lisa Mantchev, author of the Theatre Illuminata series.

"No, not really. I mean, that would be so boring! Although, I think you have to be passionate about what you're writing about. If you don't love your idea, the characters, the setting, etc. - how can you expect your readers to love it?" - Lisa Schroeder, author of Chasing Brooklyn.

"Yes. But I wouldn’t say, 'Write only what you know'—that’s too limiting." - Jennifer Hubbard, author of The Secret Year.

"I believe you should have a passion for what you write. (So does my new hero, James N. Frey. (The James Frey that tells the truth.)" - Bonnie Doerr, author of Island Sting.

Come back Tuesday to learn what are the authors biggest pet peeves in fiction!

1 comment:

  1. Ah, I like what Julie said - imagination.