Monday, December 6, 2010

Melissa's Myths for Mondays

You Should Write What You Know

I think this depends on how you define the word know. Do you have to be an expert on a subject to write about it? I hope not, because I enjoy writing about many things which are completely unfamiliar to me, zombie rabbits for instance. But I do know animals. I volunteer as a docent at the zoo and have come to appreciate animals in a whole knew way.

On the other hand, when people know too much about their subject it can stifle the action and the tension of a scene. I’ve read several manuscripts (none of them published) where the writer spent so much time trying to teach and inform us about his favorite topic, that the story was drowned.

Lynda Young did a great post about this on her site a couple months ago.

Do you only write what you know, or do you like to explore the unfamiliar?


  1. Yeah, I think a little of both is a good balance!

  2. I write a combination of both. I've never been pulled inside a supernova but I've written about it! Part of the fun of writing is using your imagination to go crazy places or raise zombie rabbits :)

  3. I totally agree that when the writer is trying too hard to educate a reader in fiction, it stifles the story. Great post!

  4. I feel safest writing what I know and am familiar with!!! But I guess if you do your research correctly and thoroughly then the world's your oyster! Take care

  5. It's fun to write about what we don't know but only if we're willing to put in the hours and hours of research so we can write with confidence and knowledgeability. Otherwise we'll be laughed out of existence by the readers.


  6. I believe in a little of both. You have to have some sort of knowledge (even if its just the emotions behind the action).

  7. I like to explore, but not research. So I write in a world entirely of my own creation. Sort of. :)

  8. I'm with Elana, I write YA Horror so I don't really write what I know. It's good fun though, and a great exercise of the imagination. I wouldn't have it any other way :)