Sunday, March 29, 2009

Write What You Know

Okay, so you don't HAVE to write what you know. Imagination and research can do the whole job.

Though if you think about it, you can't entirely escape putting yourself in there. A story written without a real human perspective might as well be written by computer. There's always a little of you in there, whether you want to or not.

But I'm not talking about the personal meaning that gets in there by fiat. I'm talking about investing yourself in a story by conscious choice.

Just once, dig deep down in your soul and find something real. Something real not because you went out and looked it up, but real because you know it, because it's yours. Then write it. Make it a theme, or a character, or a setting.

It could be your childhood home, and the way you felt when you smelled your mother's cooking.

It could be your college roommate with whom you had a hate-hate relationship.

It could be the first time you almost lost your virginity.

Everyone has something, because no one gets through life without at least a little drama.

Write it, and see what happens. Characters come alive. You never have to struggle with the right detail. It's natural. It's magical. The zone is right there.

There's a risk, though. The more you do this, the more of your own soul you invest in the piece, the more there is to lose. If someone throws your manuscript into the fires of Mount Doom I won't be responsible for the result.

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