Thursday, January 13, 2011

Write What You Know--So What Do You Know?

One of the things that successful writers always say to aspiring authors is “write what you know.” I hold with that advice, and have passed it on to younger writers who ask me what I think. But one other bit of advice that I also pass on is “write what you like.”

My first e-book is a cozy mystery. I cannot say that I wrote that based on my experience in solving a murder. I haven’t. Even if I was placed in the same position as the characters in my book I doubt I would react the way they did. If fact, I know I wouldn’t go off and try to solve a murder. So in this case I have not written what I know. In many cases where mysteries are concerned, I am sure that very few authors have hands on experience in solving a murder or any other kind of mystery.

However, I do believe that most of us who write mysteries like to read those types of books.

That is why I think it’s important to write the type of book you would like to read. If you would enjoy it, it is pretty likely that others will enjoy it as well.

Within that context I also believe it’s important to write what you know and put it into that. In my cozy, the protagonists are two women in their fifties who have been friends since childhood. This is something I know quite well. I too am in my fifties, and my two closest friends are women I have known a long time; one for 42 years, the other for 35 years. I am more than familiar with the nuances of a life-long relationship.

I believe that in combining these two qualities -- writing what I know along with what I like -- adds layers to my book that make it not only more believable (in the relationship of the two women) but also a level of interest that it might not have, had I tried to write about something that didn’t interest me. I think that would come across on the printed page loud and clear.

So for all new writers out there (myself included) I would offer those two bits of advice: write what you know, and also write what you like. You’ll be happier, and chances are so will your reader.

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