Writing Wednesday: Write What You Know

There is a famous piece of advice to writers: Write what you know.

Write what you know

Its validity is sometimes disputed, because crime writers write about murder and rape without having actually experienced it themselves, and science fiction writers write about whole worlds and alien races that they couldn’t possibly have experienced. But it’s good advice for beginners, to draw on your own experiences, people and places you know, in order to give your story a touch of realism.

As you will know if you follow my blogs, I am writing a science fiction series Flight of the Kestrel, the first novel of which, Intruders, I’m editing now. One of the main characters is Tabitha Enns, an eighteen  year old trainee who has been plucked out of the academy for some work experience on the Kestrel. This was all done in a hurry to fill a gap in the crew, and she gets a lot more than she expected.

The first shock is that they are an all-male crew and she has to share a cabin. Luckily Andrew Chambers treats her like a kid sister and looks after her. She also hits a problem with the youngest crewman, Roy Stubbs, who fancies her. She has never had a boyfriend and doesn’t know what to do, or even if she is reading the signals right.

Wind the clock back over 40 years and you find me in exactly the same situation. I was very shy and was eighteen before I had my first date. It’s been a strange experience, dredging up all those memories: the awkwardness, the embarrassment, the fear of being laughed at or rejected or gossiped about, plucking up the courage to ask another girl for advice. But I can certainly write what I know, even though Tabitha is from a high gravity Earth colony and working on a space ship.

‘Write what you know’ doesn’t mean you have to set your stories in your street, in your past. That may be a rich seam of ideas, but sometimes it’s the little things. The way your aunty spoke or your cousin dressed. The thoughts and emotions you have felt or witnessed at different times in your life. A catch phrase or story someone used to tell. Tabitha gives advice to Andrew Chambers that helps him through a difficult time – advice straight out of my husband’s mouth!

Now, what do you know that you can put in your writing?


About Ann Marie Thomas

Married since 1974, Christian since 1986, 4 children, 4 grand children, disabled with fibromyalgia but was working almost full time until a stroke in May 2010 changed my life completely. Writing poetry and making up stories since I was a child, I only started to write seriously when my children were grown. My main ambition is to write science fiction, but along the way I got distracted by local history and poetry about my stroke. Taking early retirement gave me the chance to concentrate on my writing. My book, Alina, The White Lady of Oystermouth, was published in print and ebook at Easter 2012. The success of Alina led to the publication of Broken Reed: The Lords of Gower and King John in September 2013, and The Magna Carta Story at Easter 2015. I am still writing science fiction - a series of novels called Flight of the Kestrel. For all my author news, see me author blog at www.annmariethomas.me.uk
This entry was posted in writing, Writing Wednesday and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Writing Wednesday: Write What You Know

  1. Pingback: Writing Wednesday: 2015 Writing Roundup | Ann Marie Thinking Out Loud

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s