Write what you know. Wise words given to beginning and experienced writers. Published writers also repeat this crap.
Oops. No I didn’t!
Did I say crap to one of the most repeated maxims—ahem—crap advice?
I can already see the comments and emails. What do you know? What have you been published? Blah, blah, blah.
Let’s take Star Trek. When Gene Roddenberry began his epic TV show, did he know what the future truly held? He definitely got a lot of things right. But he also got a lot of things wrong. But what do the millions and billions of Trekkies worldwide focus on? Their love and connection of the characters.
J.K. Rowling wrote one of the most published stories ever. Does she really know how to be a wizard? Or a witch? She’s got a good idea. But she doesn’t truly know. I use the word know in reference to having performed magic. Real magic. The kind done with a wand. She’s never said, “Wingardium Leviosa!” and, bam, her Rolls flew into the sky. Although, her bank account did.
Why do millions upon billions of people feverishly read her books? Cause they love and connect with the stories and characters. It’s totally engrossing.
Talk about engrossing! Stephanie Meyers wrote the Twilight series and millions and billions of girls, women, and ladies engulfed all four books in record time. However, she’s gotten severe criticism on her writing.
So what? Look at her fans, her numbers, her ability to connect her story and characters to her readers. Tell me if her writing sucks. Don’t even mention she sucks to her fandom. Images of teen girls tearing flesh off bone come to mind.
Has Ms. Meyers sucked blood? I don’t know the answer to that, but I would assume no. Nor is she a vampire. And no matter how Gothic you are you don’t know what being a vampire is like, to only thirst for blood, to despise the smell of cooked food, to see people—cattle—talk to you, smile, laugh.
What all writers, all artistes, anyone who is human, know is what it’s like to be human. We all know what it’s like to fall in love, to lose something precious (like a ring formed in the fires of Mordor), to be isolated, to be the underdog, etc. It’s the emotions that we should write about. That’s what we connect to. That’s what we know.
Don’t believe me?
Listen to all the previews shown before the feature film. A deep voice:
The use of structure is superb. Dialogue written so realistically, it’s realistic. The scene breaks done so well you don’t know if there was a scene break. But there was. Or else the whole movie would be one big scene! Opening in June with the perfect first line EVER!
You’re more likely to hear this:
In the barren city of San Francisco, a lone straggler wakes to the cold realization that he’s alone. His screams are unheard. Thrilling! The eerie echo of his foot steps lure predators scarred by terrors unknown. Gripping! He retreats into Starbucks only to find brewing coffee. Stimulating! But where is the barista? Spellbinding! He finds an adult bookstore. Movies are still playing! Exciting!
One drill my friend and I use is tell each other what we feel when we read each other’s work. Do we connect to the characters? Who do we care about? Why? Do the events make logical sense? If not, what’s missing? I ask these questions when people read my fascinating stories. Hoping that the compelling nature comes across grippingly.
Check out my episodes. I’ve done my best to do this.