Monday, December 20, 2010

Knowledge is Power!

When I was in middle and high school, my parents did everything they could to get me away from the computer screen and into the real world. They knew I loved writing, and therefore made a point of watching out for events that I might attend locally to socialize with other writers and obtain direction and suggestions from those established in the field. Therefore, for six years, I attended Drury University’s Writing Camp. The camp consisted of rooming in the dorms with fellow aspiring writers and attending a number of conferences hosted by two or three well-known young adult authors between Thursday and Monday right after the school year ended. Here, I learned many things between there being no such thing as writer’s block (which I believe is, to put it nicely, horseshit) to write what you know.

Writing what you know is a great start in fiction, but as someone who has always wanted to learn more, I often look at various subjects or plots as a way to educate myself in which something I previously had little to no knowledge. For this reason, I would advocate writing what you WANT to know just as much if not more so than writing about things in which you are already educated. If there’s a subject you’re interested in, give yourself a reason to do some research.  

That being said, don’t go out of your way to show off your newfound knowledge. Info dumps, especially in world-building scenarios, can be very tempting, but do your best to pace yourself and your reader. Only reveal what is essential for the story UP UNTIL THAT POINT while maintaining a level of realism for eventual revelations. That is, don’t reveal A Very Important Device the minute said device is needed, but also don’t devote a paragraph to a nonessential element just because you have worked it out.

As this will be the last you hear from me before the holidays, I’d like to take a minute to wish all of Romancing the Muses subscribers and readers a fantastic week and a great weekend to come. Merry Christmas to those who celebrate it, and seasons warmest regards to everyone else. 


Anonymous said...

I've always done a mix of both. A story will have elements I'm comfortable with to keep me grounded when my curiosity leads me into writing what I don't know. A one foot in each cart kind of thing.

Happy holidays!

Rosalie Stanton said...

Absolutely! There's nothing wrong at ALL in writing what you know (I'd be in trouble if that were the case!) but I try not to limit myself. I don't want to be scared away from something exciting just because some of the material is stuff I haven't experienced.

Thanks for contributing, Sonya! Happy holidays!

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