Saturday, April 26

What Do You Like to Write?

Since the beginning of time  I have heard the advice "Write what you know"  and like most writers have tried to figure out how to translate that into something readable. 

Until today.

I came across a rough draft of a story I wrote after seeing the dismal Tim Burton movie of the old TV series  "Dark Shadows'".  While every remake of the series has been a rehash of the same material, mine had the characters wander into new territory. I looked at the material and had an epiphany.

Forget that old advice- fellow writers. Write what you like. That's where inspiration comes from because, let's face it, most of us know nothing. My life and experiences don't mean beans to me but my flights of fancy are much richer. I like science that's why I did well at it in school and still enthralled by new discoveries. I never liked politics so I wrote fantasy and sci-fi for years not political thrillers. 

I write what I like. I like wondering what would happen if I were plunked down in an alien world or what it's like to battle a dragon or, in my recent novel, what is it like to be a firefighter with superpowers. Some people lead interesting lives, that's why I read biographies. Some of us imagine interesting lives. that's what I write.

Likewise is the advice show don't tell. Excuse me? We have story tellers. " Tell me a story" is the classic request. You don't show a joke, you tell one. Writing a novel is like telling a joke.

A dragon walks into a bar ( the set up) and orders a boiler maker. The bartender gives him one and says " That will be ten bucks." The dragon pays ( main theme). The bartender says 
" We don't get many dragons in here."  ( the climax) The dragon replies, " At these prices I'm not surprised." ( the resolution).

There's showing but there's also telling, remember that kiddies.

Screw the rules and the traditional advice . Write what you like-- with passion. Make sure it's something you enjoy and others will enjoy it too because it's real and honest.

1 comment:

TJ Carter said...

Yes! Thank you! I recently came across this quote from author Joe Haldeman:

"Bad books on writing tell you to 'WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW,' a solemn and totally false adage that is the reason there are so many mediocre novels about English professors contemplating adultery."