Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Write What You Want to Know

Write What You Know. I hear many people say this. I also hear many people against prologues yet I've read Clive Cussler and he seems to be doing just fine. Do you really want to be like most people? Most people can be awfully...sheep-like.

Instead, try this:

The challenge is learning something new, or refreshing something you have knowledge of. Maybe you like historical fiction. You write historical fiction. A reliable source (Mom) knew of an author who spent years studying her subject. She'd get into the language, the clothes, the "current" events they would read in the newspaper, and all the details just to write her book as accurately as possible. She'd travel to the location of her setting. She'd take tours, she'd go to the universities and ask for information.

Write what you WANT to know.

People live in this bubble and their knowledge only goes out so far. But I believe humans naturally crave information. They're curious. They have to know things. Anybody or anything that gets in the way of that disrupts what it means to be human. But anything in the way of it knows that it cannot be stopped, even if threats of death breathe into their face. And the more you suppress a human, the more they rebel. The more they think. Why don't you want a human to be curious, they'll think.

Curiosity is a circle. A hungry circle that needs to be fed. Get out of that bubble once in a while and learn.

Want to write about Italian mobsters but live in Britain but can't leave your floral interior-designed loft that smells like your nan? Do it. Go learn. Incorporate your living quarters with your mobster book. Fuse the info that you know and the info you're studying to know.

I'm from the Northwest. I want Russians in my book. I'm studying Russian history (I took it in college and still want more), have books by Russian authors, and books on the language (one for slang, the other for...other). When I heard my pastor lived there and still keeps in contact with his translator, I knew I had to put him in my network. Not only do you need books, you need people. If you want to know more, you have to play nice. I smile and joke a lot. My military-disciplined personality goes a long way.

But if I wrote what I knew...I'd be living a life that I knew years ago that I do not want to go back to. At least right now. Maybe I'll write what I know later.

But as a veteran, I want to escape what I know. I want to write what I don't know. And that makes it fun. Any time I can escape reality, create my own worlds, and dive into them, I'm there. I don't even think writers know what will come out of the world they make. Characters from fantasy just seem to...pop out of nowhere and tell you this is how it's going to be.

Isn't that right, Caelum?
Caelum and Svetlana - "The First" - Monsters & Mercies

Write what you want to know.

You'll grow because you chose to get out of yourself.

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