Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Write what you know

All the fun rules of writing.

"Show don't tell." Gotcha.

"Be specific." Yup.

"Write what you know." Uh, wait a minute...

So how does "write what you know" apply if you want to write a paranormal? Or a fantasy? Vampires don't really exist (at least, I'm pretty sure they don't). Dragons? Were-chipmunks? Other dimensions?

Or even if you're not writing a fantasy at all. Say you're just writing a book from the opposite sex's POV. Or about a murderer and horrible crimes when your life has just been butterflies and pancakes.

"We walk through ourselves, meeting robbers, ghosts, giants, old men, young men, wives, widows, brothers-in-love, but always meeting ourselves."
- James Joyce, ULYSSES

Forgive me for quoting Ulysses (a quote I got from Jonathan Carroll's blog. I have tried, and failed, several times to read Ulysses)

But it sums it up. At the essence of any novel, be it set in space or at the bottom of the ocean, is to discover something about ourselves. About mankind. We all share the same experiences to a certain level. To learn something about ourselves, to see our struggle in someone else's struggle.

We are all Frodo on our difficult journey to find meaning in our lives.

Atlantis is only a city. It's the people that make it legendary.

Through love, failure, hope, joy, despair. Emotions. We've all felt them. If you can make your dragon hero "human", then you know enough to write about dragons.

If you live in a small farming town in the middle of nowhere, you can write about an outpost in the far reaches of space.

Use what you know. You know more than you think you do. Apply the everyday to the extraordinary.

And for the rest of it, just fake it. ;-)



Julie Anne Long said...

Hey Michelle -- How do you know about Jonathan Carroll?? I freaking LOVE Jonathan Carroll! And I know so few people who know who the heck he is.

Michelle Rowen said...

I see all. I know all.

Actually, Neil Gaiman is my personal god. And he likes Carroll. Therefore, so do I.

Julie Anne Long said...

Oh, THAT's right -- silly me. I forgot you were omniscient! Carroll's books are often uneven, but there's always something eerily beautiful or fascinating or addictive in them...and oddly, they're more tender and romantic than many typical romances. I've read SLEEPING IN FLAME a good half dozen times. Maybe I'll go read it again now. Instead of working on my revisions. (ha!).