January 7, 2013

A Writer's Life - Let me write what I (hopefully don't) know!

If you ask me the whole write-what-you-know thing is poppycock. I mean where would that leave us as writers? No, seriously, think about it. If we only wrote about stuff we know and experienced, there would be a shocking lack of some of my favorite genres on my bookshelves. And that, my friends, would be a truly sad thing.

So, let's reword that stale phrase to ...

Write what you can imagine!

Copyright by Claude McCoy

After all, if we stuck to the knowledge rule when it comes to plotting, that would lead to some very disturbing conclusions. For the reader, of course, it's good that writer's are often a bit, shall we say different? Sadly, or luckily, I am not excluding myself here though I prefer the term quirky.
In the know? Or simply blessed with a vivid imagination? You be the judge.

There are those who are apparently not easily scared, neither by their childhood trauma's nor by inanimate objects doing strange things. You know the kind of person whose pets you most certainly don't want to sit. Trust me, I wouldn't mind having Stephen King's bank account, but then again living in his creepy place might seriously reduce my beauty sleep to zero. Not to say he doesn't live in a lovely town, but to be perfectly honest the whole famed author thing might be a bit overrated anyway.

Of course life doesn't have to be all that exciting for a writer. Some lead a wonderfully quiet life, the kind where you relax with a good book in your hands sipping a nice cuppa tea. Of course, next thing you know dead bodies are turning up in front of your favorite coffeeshop. One thing leads to another and you're suddenly the main suspect in a very real murder investigation which does all but impress the boss in your current dead-end job. And yes, you need that job, because writing alone doesn't exactly pay the rent.

Thankfully not all writer's get tangled up in murder and mayhem. Just imagine the costs for exorcisms and lawyers if they were!

Of course things get even more intriguing and maybe a tad bewildering when it comes to science fiction and fantasy. Somebody smocked something, eh?

Now tell meif authors were only writing  about what they know, which book(s) would leave you on the wrong side of surprised?


  1. I am not sure whether a good book comes from pure knowledge of the facts or incredible imagination, or a mixture of both, but I am sooo grateful for the perfect books I have read along the years... Oh, Jeanette Winterson wrote The Passion, set in Venice, before she visited the city :)

    1. I guess it's a combination of both which makes a good book, most of the time anyway. After all, a little research aka "knowledge" on a subject never hurts a novel. And where would we be without that spark of imagination while turning the pages?

  2. I especially the bit about "write what you can imagine"