Thursday, January 27, 2011

What You Don't Know


We have all heard the classic advice “Write What You Know” and that’s great, I milk a lot of personal experience and knowledge into my writing, and we should always have those truths in our writing regardless of genre…BUT…I am also a firm believer in writing what we don’t know, of opening that Pandora’s box and letting a story take us somewhere we have never been. Meeting characters and having experiences we might never...EVER want in real life.
I argue this point for the sake of not forever covering ground we have already trod, the idea of taking us somewhere new and uncharted. A multitude of our favorite works wouldn’t have been written IF they had stuck with only writing what you know.
I am personally open to the possibility of spiritual inspiration helping awake something in us, helping us chart these things we don’t yet know, and you can call it whatever you like-I also like the racial memory that Robert E. Howard wrote about or following the Muse as mentioned by Steven Pressfield or Homer. Be open.
I urge you to jump right in and TELL THE STORY, don’t get hung up on what you don’t know, what you haven’t researched yet or whatever else holds you up. Daylight is burning.

9 comments:

Taranaich said...

Dear God, David, you have to *warn* people when you use something as awesome as Napoleon Crossing the Alps on A Goddamn Dinosaur. I very nearly died of awesome-induced apoplexy.

Charles Gramlich said...

Yeah, that image is very cool. In Write with Fire I urge people to "write what you can learn." If we want to set a story on Mars but don't KNOW mars, we can learn.

Angie said...

Great advice. If I only wrote what I knew, all mys stories would be about middle-aged housewives whose major conflict is how to get everyone to soccer practice on time. Yeah, exciting, I know. Okay, really I could write about conflicts a lot deeper than that, but I also love to let my imagination run wild.

Ann said...

Since the older I get the less I know....writing only what I know would be very limiting!

David J. West said...

Glad you liked that Al.

Right on Charles.

Angie-you are a great writer who I don't think has ever been...hijacked to Pueblo Bonita, or seen a Jaredite Temple in Manti (have you?)

Nice Ann.

The Golden Eagle said...

Thanks for the advice! I agree--at least in my case if I only wrote what I knew my stories would be rather low-key.

David J. West said...

Thanks Golden Eagle, I'm quite the fan of speculative fiction.

Angie said...

Well, no actually. I haven't. ;) But I did hijack my family to Pueblo Bonita before I wrote the story. Thanks, David.

David J. West said...

Very cool Angie-thats a place I really want to personally visit.