You've heard the old adage "write what you know". But what if you're a housewife with no work experience and your most recent hobby is folding laundry? You know more than you think. Do a little work to get to know your personality, learn how to verbalize your specialized knowledge and find what topics of human nature resonate with you. When you learn to write what you know, you can leverage your knowledge and put power into your books. What you know is intimately connected to what you believe. It is these beliefs about people and situations, life, the universe and everything that will come through in your stories.
Here are 13 tips to writing what you know:
1.Generalize your likes. For example, describe in detail the reasons you liked a certain story you read without naming any characters or their specific situation in the book. Use these generalizations when creating your own stories.
2.Find a book you read that made you feel so giddy with excitement you just had to share the story with someone or burst. Now find a second book that was good, but didn't make you as excited. Figure out what was in the first book that was missing from the second book and use it.
3.Leverage your dislikes. Has your personal tolerance level ever been tested to the limits? If so, describe how. If not, describe how you manage to avoid being tested to the limits. Use your descriptions to give your characters a deep emotional touch.
4.Are you reserved and people think you're shy, or are you confident, and people think you're opinionated? Why do you think people sometimes misread your personality? What vibes do you give off that might make people think that? Create a scenario of what could happen when people misjudge.
5.Name one joy in your life. Describe that joy in such a way that others can feel it along with you.
6.Name one tragedy in life that you've personally sorrowed over and want to help others overcome. Describe the process of how you overcame it.
7.Name a champion in your life. Create a scenario that will glorify that champion.
8.Name a villain you know of in your life. Create a scenario that will serve justice to this villain or expose the oppression he or she represents.
9.Describe the difference between justice and mercy and give an example of each from your personal experience. Create a scenario in which a character must choose between the two.
10.Use the question, "What makes you think that?" to understand why friends and relations think the way they do. Compare their answers to your own thinking and use any differences to set up powerful story conflicts.
11.Name one small thing that bothers you. Describe why it bothers you. Find story ideas or themes that connect with the reasons it bothers you.
12.Make a list of any specialized knowledge you have from work and non-work experience. Use small details from your experiences to make your story worlds feel real.
13.Use ordinary experiences to advantage. It's not the ordinariness of the experience that matters, but your unique perspective on it. Look for ways that your ordinary experiences differ from those of other people. Capture and highlight those differences in your stories.
If you have trouble with these tips, don't get how they would relate to writing what you know or just need help getting the most out of your own knowledge, consider taking Kat's class Using Ordinary Know-how in Every Genre at Savvy Authors. Registration is open now!
Thank you, Kat for visiting The Otherworld Diner and giving us some great tips. As a former student, I’m awed by your ability to explain concepts so that they can be easily understood. I would take another one of your classes in a heartbeat.