Saturday, 22 December 2012

Write what you know: Fact or Fiction?

I can still see her:
Wrinkled face framed by grey sausage curls.
Our grade four teacher's blue piercing eyes dared us to disobey.
"Remember class, only write what you know."

The whole class started scribbling furiously:
"Sally gets a puppy." or  "Billy's Worst Day."
...they were all riveting works of art taken from our life experiences...
but none of them were ever published. :)

So how important is it that you write what you know?
I think in this case a writer has to follow the spirit of the law and not the letter.

I have never seen an actual dragon,
nor have I visited a royal court.
Yet my WIP involves both.
In fact, most fantasy and sci-fi fiction takes great liberties with reality.

My theory?
Even if your characters have blue skin,
or are part of a crew that visits galaxies far, far away,
there is still a core of what you know buried deep inside of them:

So yes, write what you know:
Jealousy, Rage, Love, Fear,
all the emotions from your everyday life.

Use them all:
-the butterflies before your first kiss.
-the anger that coursed through your veins when you found your brother reading your diary.
-the peace from camping nights under star filled skies.

Analyze those emotions,
and use them to make your writing come alive.

How about you? How do you make the emotions of your characters real for your readers?

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