How do you write what you know when you don’t know?

One of the first pieces of writing advice I was given was the age old adage of ‘Write what you know.’ I always thought it was strange advice since I wanted to write fantasy and had no idea what riding a dragon, or fighting an orc was like. How was I ever suppose to write about those kinds of things if I was suppose to write what I knew?

I still hear that advice given out on a near constant basis, but it’s not advice I’ve ever been able to give anyone. It’s taken me a while to figure out exactly how it even applies in my own writing.

Then finally, it clicked. It doesn’t mean to write about your day to day life (unless non-fiction is your thing, in which case, huge kudos to you, that’s an awesome talent!) but to use the things you know to write the things you don’t. I might not know what riding on a dragon’s back is like, but I know what it feels like to ride a horse.

Take inspiration from the  world around you that you know and manipulate it into your writing to make your world more belivable. Use the details of things you know and experience to draw your reader into your world.

Everyone has a wide range of experiences in their life: love, loss, pain, joy, fear, sickness, etc. Take those emotions, or experiences to use to give your writing a solid, belivable background.

Write what you know into what you don’t know.


1 Comment »

  1. Laura W. Said:

    That always seemed like annoying advice. Until I looked at my writing one day and realized that all my characters were different incarnations of myself. Then I went “OH!” and realized what it meant. 🙂

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