June 27, 2011

How can I write what I know?

For many years, I've pondered this - Write what you know. If I write what I know, then my stories will be BORING! After all...I was born and raised in Utah. Growing up my family never went anywhere except camping. We didn't visit exotic places - or even go to Disneyland. After I married and had my two daughters, we didn't go anywhere either because we couldn't afford it. Is it any wonder I started writing? I wanted to visit places I've never been and could only dream about.

But there's more to this concept of writing what you know. It took me a long time to realize I could still write about the 1800's and exotic places I've never been. How, you ask? Well, after all the time I spend doing research for my stories, guess what? Now I KNOW about these places. I know about the Regency and Victorian periods. I know about the Wild West, the way the people acted and the clothes they wore.

Oh...but there's still more to this concept, believe it or not. Writing what you know doesn't just mean places you've visited. Oh, no!  Writing what you know means emotions. If there are no emotions in a story, then the reader isn't going to sympathize with your characters. So, if an author has been in love - they can write about it. They know the emotions; swelling of the heart, tingles rushing up and down your spine, and yes, even going weak at the knees. A writer knows about how one can long for the person they love until it consumes their very being. If an author has had their heart broken, that only adds to the story. If an author has experienced anger, hatred, happiness, and forgiveness, those are great emotions to write about, too.

In the past couple of years, I've been seriously thinking about the direction of my writing. For many years, I wrote stories that were not going anywhere. I thought I was writing what I knew. Then I realized I wasn't. Not really. I'm a Christian - born and raised. I faithfully go to church every week, pray several times a day, and put my trust in the Lord. Yet did I once think about adding segments of this to my stories? I didn't. So almost two years ago, I decided to start writing Christian and sweet romances. It was something entirely new for me. But you know what? IT WORKED! I feel more confident about my writing and my plots. I feel like I can actually see my future paved in front of me...and it's looking very good!

So my advice to writers out there is to WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW. Write what feels good to you and that will lead you in the right direction. Don't be afraid to try something new, either. You just might like it.

Books by Marie Higgins:
Winning Mr. Wrong (LDS romance) Also available in Kindle!

Heart of a Hero (general Christian historical romance) Also available in Kindle!

Hearts Through Time (sweet romance / paranormal) Also available in Kindle!


Becky said...

Great advice. I will try to remember this advice when I finally take the time to try writing. I've been trying to decide what I want to try writing, but I haven't decided yet. I am thinking about writing stories for children, but haven't made time to try writing anything yet. My first step would be to make the time and see what happens. Thanks for sharing this with us Marie.

Mary Martinez said...

Great post Marie.

Also anyone who loves a great story, read Hearts Through Time by Marie, you're love it!

Suzie Grant said...

Excellent advice, Marie. Couldn't have said it better. And writing emotions is what you do best, I've watched you for fifteen years and you only get better, girl. So proud of you!

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

I think the total experiences you had in your life is what should be in your stories. You lived it, you know it - settings and places are just the spice.

Nice getting to know you today. Your book covers are great. Best of luck with lots and lots of sales.

marybelle said...

Try something new is good advice for readers as well. Steampunk anyone?

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Marie
Great blog with a lot of sound advice.



Betsy Love said...

You'll get no argument here. My life is equally as boring. Writing is an escape outside of the "boring" part of my life. (Okay, so raising 8 kids might not be considered boring to some)

Caroline Clemmons said...

Marie, I certainly agree that we call on our own past emotions when we're writing. Thanks for sharing.

dragonfly said...

The first novel I completed was set in Houston and Alaska. Houston I could write, but Alaska was way outside of my realm. I found a free romance site and found a guy who would email with me. He kept asking if I wouldn't like to move to Alaska and I insisted I was just a writer who needed help. He was very nice about helping with this story...and we didn't hook up. :-)