When I first started writing, one of the pieces of advice I got was to ‘write what you know.’ I suppose that makes sense, since writing what you’re familiar with should be easier, and should also give you a certain insight that others might not have.
The down side to writing what you know is 1) that you might forget readers don’t know what you’re talking about and use terms and slang only you know 2) that you might over-explain to compensate for readers’ lack of knowledge about the subject.
I hate to say it, but sometimes, writing about something I’m really familiar with can be … boring. I love to do research, so I usually try to include at least one or two things I need to research. In Her Rocky Mountain Guardian, I drew on what I knew for the setting. I know what winter feels like. I know how driving snow stings when it hits your face. I know what frostbite feels like (and how much it hurts when you begin to thaw out). I know what it’s like to drive on winter roads and what black ice is. I also know what sadness, joy and fear feel like. Those are universal – sadness, joy, fear. No special knowledge and no research required.
I didn’t know about ranching, and horses, so I called on friends who are intimately associated with both for the information I needed.
For me, a book is even better when I learn something while I’m being entertained, and those are the books I like to write.
What about you? Do you like to learn something new when you read? Or do you like to just sit back and be entertained?
As a little girl in Scotland, I loved reading the words in books, and using those words even when I had no idea what they meant. My favorites were consecrate (my version of concentrate), and puncture (meaning temperature).Within the pages of those books, I lost myself in the fantasy worlds the authors created. But I had no idea that someone – a real, live person – was writing the stories that enthralled me. And it never occurred to me that I could write stories, too.
When my family left Scotland and settled in Canada, I began to write – not stories, but long, rambling letters to my grandparents. Looking back, they were really mini-novels, filled with my adventures and tales of growing up in a new country. In school, I loathed English class. So what was I destined to be? Yes, you guessed it. A writer.
It wasn’t until my children left home, that I started writing and seriously pursuing a new career as a published author. These days, I’m lucky enough to be able to combine my love of travel (thanks to my father’s wanderlust) and writing by personally researching the settings in my books.
Now, I live on a lake and I’m lucky enough to wake up to this gorgeous view every morning (it does tend to distract me from the computer, I admit).
When I’m not writing, I can usually be found wielding a pair of knitting needles or a pool cue. Oh, and dealing with that wanderlust thing …